December - 5 years ago; 10 years ago; 80 years ago; 100 years ago; 105 years ago; 200 years ago

5 years ago 

The final working reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine, was permanently shut down 14 years after an explosion there caused one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. 

10 years ago 

Hungarian born US chemist Maria Telkes died. Telkes pioneered the use of solar energy for distilling water and designed a chemical storage system for the first solar-heated house.

80 years ago 

US neurologist Paul Greengard was born. He shared the 2000 Nobel prize for medicine for discovering how drugs affect the brain and for recognising that drug addiction is a brain disease.  

100 years ago 

Gerard Peter Kuiper, US astronomer, was born in the Netherlands. He discovered Miranda and Nereid, moons of Neptune and Uranus. A belt of small bodies outside Neptune’s orbit is named after him.

105 years ago 

Austrian biochemist Richard Kuhn was born. He refused the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1938 on instruction from the Nazi government, finally receiving it in 1949 for work on carotenoids and vitamins. 

200 years ago 

Thomas Graham, first president of the Chemical Society, was born in Scotland. Famous for his work on the diffusion of gases and founder of Graham’s law, his work extended to the diffusion of one liquid into another. He classified solutes into crystalloids and colloids, marking the beginning of colloidal chemistry.