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William Ramsay

Born 2 October 1852(1852-10-02)
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 23 July 1916 (aged 63)
High Wycombe, Bucks., England
Nationality Scotland
Fields Chemistry
Institutions University College, Bristol (1880–87)
University College London (1887–1913)
Alma mater University of Glasgow
University of Tübingen
Doctoral advisor Wilhelm Rudolph Fittig
Doctoral students Edward Charles Cyril Baly
James Johnston Dobbie
Jaroslav Heyrovský
Known for Noble gases
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1904)
Vanity Fair caricature of William Ramsay

Sir William Ramsay, KCB (2 October 1852 – 23 July 1916) was a Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air" (along with Lord Rayleigh who received the Nobel Prize in Physics that same year for the discovery of argon).

Contents

Biography

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Early years

Ramsay was born in Glasgow, the son of William Ramsay, C.E. and Catherine, née Robertson. He was a nephew of the geologist Sir Andrew Ramsay.

He attended the Glasgow Academy and then continued his education at the University of Glasgow under Thomas Anderson and then went to study in Germany at the University of Tübingen with Wilhelm Rudolph Fittig where his doctoral thesis was entitled Investigations in the Toluic and Nitrotoluic Acids. He returned to Glasgow as Anderson's assistant at the Anderson College. He was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the University College of Bristol in 1879 and married Margaret Buchanan in 1881. In the same year he became the Principal of the Bristol and somehow managed to combine that with active research both in organic chemistry and on gases.

Career

In 1887 he succeeded Alexander Williamson to the chair of Chemistry at University College London (UCL). It was here at UCL that his most celebrated discoveries were made. As early as 1885–1890 he published several notable papers on the oxides of nitrogen developing the skills that he would need for his subsequent work.

On the evening of 19 April 1894 Ramsay attended a lecture given by Lord Rayleigh. Rayleigh had noticed a discrepancy between the density of nitrogen made by chemical synthesis and nitrogen isolated from the air by removal of the other known components. After a short discussion he and Ramsay decided to follow this up. By August Ramsay could write to Rayleigh to announce that he had isolated a heavy component of air previously unknown which did not appear to have any obvious chemical reactivity. He named the gas "argon". In the years that followed he discovered neon, krypton, and xenon. He also isolated helium which had been observed in the spectrum of the sun but had not been found on earth. In 1910 he also made and characterized radon.[1]

In 1904 Ramsay received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Ramsay’s high standing in scientific circles led to his unfortunate endorsement in 1905 of the Industrial and Engineering Trust Ltd., a corporation with a supposed secret process to extract gold from seawater. The corporation bought property along the English coast to implement the gold-from-seawater process, but the company quickly faded from public view, and never produced any gold.

Personal life

Ramsay was married to Margaret Johnstone Marshall and had daughter, Catherine (Elska), and son, William George.

Ramsay lived at Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire until his death. He died at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on 23 July 1916 from nasal cancer at the age of 63 and was buried at Hazelmere Parish church.

The current upper school Sir William Ramsay School, based in Hazlemere in High Wycombe, is named after him and was built in 1976.

Notes

  1. ^ W. Ramsay and R. W. Gray (1910). "La densité de l’emanation du radium". C.R. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci. 151: 126–128. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k31042/f126.table. 

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sir William Ramsay KCB (2 October 1852 – 23 July 1916) was a Scottish chemist who discovered the noble gases and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air".

Sourced

  • But I am leaving the regions of fact, which are difficult to penetrate, but which bring in their train rich rewards, and entering the regions of speculation, where many roads lie open, but where a few lead to a definite goal.
    • Speculating on the nature of radioactive emanations, in his Nobel lecture, December 12, 1904

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

There is more than one meaning of William Ramsay discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.


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