October - 120 years ago; 130 years ago; 155 years ago; 190 years ago; 525 years ago

120 years ago 

Niels Bohr was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bohr made a colossal contribution to the fields of quantum mechanics and atomic structure, describing the classic model of negatively charged electrons ’orbiting’ a positively charged nucleus. He participated in the Manhattan Project but later advocated the peaceful use of atomic energy. 

130 years ago 

Gilbert Newton Lewis, famous for introducing the concept of the valence bond, was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, US. Dean of the college of chemistry at UC Berkeley for 34 successful years, he died suddenly in 1946, surrounded by the experiments in his laboratory. 

155 years ago 

Henri Louis Le Chatelier was born in Paris, France. He will always be associated with the principle of chemical equilibrium that bears his name. Ironically, he failed in his attempts to synthesise ammonia commercially from nitrogen and hydrogen, the reaction which is arguably the most famous application of his rule. 

190 years ago 

Sir Humphrey Davy patented the miner’s safety lamp. With his invention, mining became much safer. The lamp flame turned blue when firedamp - a combustible mixture of methane and air - was near, giving the miners time to escape.  

525 years ago 

Vannocchio Biringuccio born in Sienna, Italy. A metallurgist and chemist, he manufactured gunpowder and described a way of refining silver. He wrote one of the first examples of a serious scientific text, la Pirotechnia