Today In Science History – October 30 – Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp


Herman Kopp

Hermann Kopp (1870-1892) German chemist and historian.
Credit: T. E. Thorpe, 1864.

October 30 is Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp’s birthday. Kopp was a German chemist and science historian.

Kopp spent his chemical career comparing physical properties of compounds to the physical properties of the atoms that made them up. He discovered the physical properties of many organic compounds, such as boiling point, specific heat, specific gravity and thermal expansion will differ from other organic compounds according to the degree which their structure differs. One example was the relationship between boiling points of hydrocarbons by the number of -CH2 groups in the molecule. Kopp’s work with heat capacities showed the molecular heat capacity of a solid compound is equal to the sum of the heat capacities of the elements composing the molecule. This relationship is known today as Kopp’s Law.

Kopp is best known for his prolific writings on the history of chemistry. His History of Chemistry was a four-volume tome to which he added three more supplements. He also chronicled the more recent (mid-to-late 1800s) story of chemistry in The Development of Chemistry in Recent Times. His history of alchemy was covered in Alchemy in Ancient and Modern Times. In addition to all this writing, he edited and wrote for three different chemistry journals. He spent the last part of his life gathering materials to write a second edition of History of Chemistry but never finished the work.

Notable Science History Events for October 30

1975 – Gustav Ludwig Hertz died.

Gustav Ludwig Hertz

Gustav Ludwig Hertz (1887 – 1975)
Nobel Foundation

Hertz was a German physicist who shares the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics with James Franck for their Frank-Hertz experiment. The Frank-Hertz experiment shows that an atom absorbs energy in discrete amounts, confirming the quantum theory of atoms. This experiment was an important step confirming the Bohr model of the atom.

1961 – The Soviet Union tests largest nuclear weapon.

Tsar Bomba Mushroom Cloud

Mushroom cloud from the Tsar Bomba explosion from 100 miles away.

The Soviet Union detonated a 58 Megaton thermonuclear device called the Tsar Bomba. This device was the largest and most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. It was initially planned to have twice the yield but was scaled back to limit the fallout from the test.

1941 – Theodor W. Hänsch was born.

Hänsch is a German physicist who shares half the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics with John Hall for their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy. They used lasers to determine the frequency of light emitted by atoms and molecules. Their technique is called the optical frequency comb technique which uses very short pulses of laser light that change frequency in short gaps like a comb and produced extremely precise measurements of measured frequencies.

1939 – Leland H. Hartwell was born.

Hartwell is an American microbiologist who shares the 2001 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Tim Hunt and Paul Nurse for their discovery of regulators in cell cycles. Hartwell studied baker’s yeast and identified over 100 genes that controlled in cell division. He called these genes cell-division-cycle or CDC genes. He also identified the gene that began the process and other error checking genes that caused pauses to repair DNA damage.

1928 – Daniel Nathans was born.

Nathans was an American molecular biologist who shares the 1978 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Hamilton Othanel Smith and Werner Arber for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their applications to break DNA molecules. Restriction enzymes are enzymes that cut DNA at known restriction sites. Nathans used restriction enzymes from bacteria to investigate the DNA of the simian virus 40. The genetic map he produced was an important step to the development of prenatal tests for genetic diseases.

1900 – Ragnar Arthur Granit was born.

Ragnar Granit

Ragnar Granit (1900 – 1991)
Nobel Foundation

Granit was a Swedish physiologist who shares the 1967 Nobel Prize in Medicine with George Wald and Haldan Hartline for their study of the internal electrical and chemical changes in the eye when exposed to light. Granit proposed a dominator-modulator theory of color vision where the three types of color receptors respond to certain bands of the spectrum and the other nerve fibers are responsive to narrow bands of the spectrum.

1895 – Gerhard Domagk was born.

Gerhard Domagk

Gerhard Domagk (1895 – 1964)
Nobel Foundation

Domagk was a German pathologist who was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the first antibacterial drug. He found the drug Prontosil was effective against streptococcus bacteria.

When the prize was announced, Domagk was arrested and forced to refuse the award by Hitler’s regime. It was the first Nobel Prize to be refused, but the Nobel Prize committee still awarded it to him. He eventually received his award after the war, in 1947.

1895 – Dickinson W. Richards Jr. was born.

Dickinson W. Richards

Dickinson W. Richards, Jr. (1895 – 1973)
Nobel Foundation

Richards was an American physician who shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine with André Cournand and Werner Forssmann for their technique and developmental research into catheterization and heart disease. Richards and Cournand pioneered the use of Forssmann’s catheters to study the physiology of shock, heart failure, and other cardiac diseases.

1817 – Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp was born.

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