November 14 marks the passing of Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin. Vauquelin was a French chemist and apothecary who is credited with the discovery of the elements beryllium and chromium. He was working with the mineral crocoite when he isolated a new element that had salts of many different colors that he named chromium. Later that same year, he isolated beryllium from the mineral beryl (also known as emerald). He originally named this element glucinum because of the compound’s sweet taste. The name beryllium was later adopted in its place.
He also isolated the first amino acid from asparagine while working with asparagus. He discovered quinic, malic and camphoric acids and isolated pectin from apples.
Notable Science History Events for November 14
1891 – Frederick Grant Banting was born.
Banting was a Canadian physician who shares the 1923 Nobel Prize in Medicine with John James Richard Macleod for their parts in the discovery of insulin. He shared his prize money with his assistant Charles Best since they both worked on the extraction of insulin and discovering its role in the treatment of diabetes in dogs.
1886 – Alexandre-Emile Béguyer de Chancourtois died.
De Chancourtois was a French geologist who was the first to organize the elements by atomic weights. He plotted a graph of the elements around a cylinder with a circumference equal to 16 units to correspond to the weight of oxygen. The elements that appeared above and below each other shared similar periodic properties between each other. His publication dealt more with geology than chemistry and did not reach the attention of mainstream chemists. After Mendeleev published his table, his contribution gained more recognition.
1829 – Nicolas-Louis Vauquelin died.
1776 – Henri Dutrochet was born.
Dutrochet was a French physiologist who was best known for his discovery of osmosis. He was also the first to recognize the green pigment in plants is important to how plants take up carbon dioxide.