Robert Bunsen, German chemist

Robert Bunsen, German chemist

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Credit: HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES LIBRARY/NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-1899), German chemist. Bunsen studied chemistry at the University of Gottingen, completing his PhD by the age of 19. In 1836 he discovered that iron oxide hydrate was an antidote to arsenic, although not before nearly killing himself with arsenic poisoning. He also created a carbon electrode to replace the expensive platinum electrode and went on to show how pure metals such as chromium and magnesium could be produced by electrolysis using nitric acid. In 1859 he joined Gustav Kirchoff to study emission spectrometry of heated elements, observing that each element emits a light of characteristic wavelength. He did not invent the gas burner that has come to be named after him, but merely improved on Faraday's design.

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