Scottish chemist, Sir William Ramsay, would have been 167 years old if he were still alive today. Google has celebrated his life-changing discoveries with a Google Doodle.
Thanks to Ramsay, the noble gases were discovered. His discovery has allowed for considerable advancements in the fields of thermodynamics and nuclear physics possible.
Born in Glasgow in 1852, Ramsay became known as the 'greatest chemical discoverer of our time,' and was awarded the Nobel Prize.
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What did Sir William Ramsay discover?
Ramsay's pioneering research led to the discovery of unknown elements, now known as the noble gases.
Ramsay earned his Doctorate from the University of Tübingen in Germany, and upon returning to the U.K., he earned his reputation for innovative experimental techniques.
Ramsay and another British physicist, Lord Rayleigh, decided to work together after Ramsay had become intrigued by Lord Rayleigh's research. Rayleigh had observed that nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere had a higher atomic weight than nitrogen in the laboratory.
In 1894, the two researchers unveiled their findings of a chemically inert gas, which they named argon.
It's thanks to argon that lightbulbs work.
As Ramsay was looking for argon, he inadvertently discovered another gas, helium. Up until that point, it was believed that helium only existed in the Sun. Carrying on with his endeavors, Ramsay and his team further discovered neon, krypton, and xenon.
The team reshaped the periodic table of elements forever. Furthermore, Ramsay previously predicted that there were at least three more noble gases to be discovered, which he published in his book 'The Gases of the Atmosphere.'
Thanks to his discoveries, Ramsay allowed helium to replace flammable hydrogen for lighter-than-air travel, and the use of argon in our modern-day lightbulbs.
For his incredible and useful discoveries, Ramsay became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1888. He was knighted in 1902 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904.