Today In Science History – January 1 – Martin Klaproth

Martin Heinrich Klaproth

Martin Heinrich Klaproth (1743 – 1817)

January 1 marks the start of the new year, but the end of Martin Klaproth. Klaproth was a German apothecary and chemist who discovered the elements uranium, zirconium, and cerium.

He also named the elements tellurium and titanium. Klaproth thought he was the discoverer of titanium in an ore of rutile in 1791 but William Gregor beat him to it by just a couple months.

Klaproth published over 200 papers and collected them into a five-volume collection. He also published a popular chemical dictionary appropriately named Chemisches Wörterbuch (German for Chemical Dictionary). This dictionary was supplemented five years later with four more volumes.

Klaproth was instrumental in introducing acceptance of Lavoisier’s new theories of the nature of gases into German chemical circles. He repeated several of Lavoisier’s experiments in lectures and demonstrations and won over the old school phlogistonists.

Notable Science History Events for January 1

1995 – Eugene Paul Wigner died.

Wigner was an Austrian-American physicist who was awarded half the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to quantum mechanics. He developed the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics where a physical system’s properties may be unchanged when a transformation is applied.

1931 – Martinus Willem Beijerinck died.

Martinus Willem Beijerinck

Martinus Willem Beijerinck (1851-1931)

Beijerinck was a Dutch biologist who coined the word virus to describe the cause of the tobacco mosaic disease. He identified the disease was caused by an agent that was much smaller than a bacterium. He also discovered the process of nitrogen fixation and bacterial sulfate reduction where bacteria use sulfates instead of oxygen.

1894 – Satyendra Nath Bose was born.

Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose (1894 – 1974)

Bose was an Indian mathematical physicist who laid much of the groundwork of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, particularly the Bose-Einstein statistics and the Bose-Einstein condensate.

The boson particle was given his name in his honor by Paul Dirac.

1894 – Heinrich Rudolf Hertz died.

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857 – 1894)

Hertz was a German physicist who first demonstrated a device to transmit and receive radio waves. The unit of frequency, Hertz was named after him. He also showed charged bodies slowly lose their charge when exposed to ultraviolet light which was later explained by the photoelectric effect.

1817 – Martin Heinrich Klaproth died.

1801 – Asteroid Ceres discovered.


Dwarf planet Ceres as viewed from the Dawn spacecraft.

The first asteroid was discovered by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi. He named his discovery Ceres after the Roman goddess of the harvest and motherly love. The asteroid was discovered to conform with the Titus-Bode law that suggested a planet should appear between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Soon, other asteroids would be discovered in this region which is known as the asteroid belt. Ceres is the largest of these asteroids.

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