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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
- About Us
The Smell of a Hard Shower
17 October 1997 8:00 pm
Tomorrow is the birthday of Christian Schoenbein, a German chemist born in 1799 who named ozone and invented the first synthetic explosive. Schoenbein's work on ozone was considered a classic at the time. He noted its presence in rainwater after thunderstorms and named the gas ozone for its peculiar smell (ozo is Greek for smell). Later experiments showed that sending a current through pure, dry oxygen (O2) creates ozone (O3).
In 1845 Schoenbein invented a powerful explosive called cellulose nitrate, or gun cotton. The discovery had its origins in a laboratory accident. Schoenbein mopped up some spilled chemicals with a cotton apron, leaving it to dry outside in the wind. The apron exploded, after which Schoenbein analyzed the combination of chemicals responsible for the blast. Although he did not succeed in manufacturing cellulose nitrate, Schoenbein foresaw the development of the plastics industry.
[Source: Trevor I. Williams, Ed., A Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (John Wiley & Sons, New York, ed. 3, 1982).]