About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« It Just So Happens That I Have A Conference Right Here | Main | Easy Aziridines »

January 2, 2014

Back Blogging (Bonus Biographical Begging)

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Blogging is now resuming at the usual pace around here, even though I'm actually still off work today and tomorrow, for various reasons. It's snowing merrily out there, anyway, so I'm just as glad not to be doing the commute. We look to get a foot or so of the stuff during the day and tonight, and tomorrow night we're supposed to get down to -11 F (-24 C), which means the only reason I'm going out is to fill the bird feeder.

I spent the holidays lounging around with family, cooking various unhealthy foods, reading a stack of books given to me for Christmas, and writing away on The Chemistry Book. I'm now up to about 140-odd entries of the 250 I need, and I'm on a pace to finish well before my deadline. I still have a dozen or so open slots to fill as new topics occur to me or turn out to need to exist.

For each topic I'm trying to give credit where it's due, and erring on the side of generosity. But each person mentioned has to have birthdates (and date of death, when applicable), and that's led me on a few research chases. There are still a few people I've been unable to run down, so I thought I'd put them out here to try to tap into sources of knowledge greater than my own. Here are my mystery people at the moment:

Hennig Brand (first isolation of phosphorus): I have c. 1630 to c. 1692, and I don't know if there are any better dates out there.

Eduard Simon fl. 1840, inadvertent discoverer of polystyrene

Carl Friedrich Claus, (1829 - ????) inventor of the Claus sulfur extraction process

Charles Watt, fl. 1850, first separated cell for the chlor-alkali process

Christian Dantsizen, one of the many people who helped come up with stainless steel

E. A. Prudhomme, helped develop the Houdry petroleum cracking process

Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett, polyethylene pioneers

Fred Joyner, with Harry Coover, developing cyanoacrylates at Eastman

Arthur Rosinger and Edward McLaughlin, developers of the magnetic stirrer

Peter L. Pauson, Thomas J. Kealy, John F. Tremaine from the discovery of ferrocene (I have the other players dated).

William G. Eversole, synthetic diamond researcher (I have several others).

Denis L. Rousseau from the polywater story

Andreas Ludi Modern structure determination of Prussian Blue pigment

Those are my missing biographical dates at the moment, but there will probably be more as things go along. If anyone has any information on these people, I would be very happy to hear about it! Thanks very much. . .

Comments (24) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. Wavefunction on January 2, 2014 11:59 AM writes...

Nothing useful to add, except to note that Carl Friedrich Claus really sounds like a Santa Claus version of Carl Friedrich Gauss. Happy New Year!

Permalink to Comment

2. Kyle Grice on January 2, 2014 12:11 PM writes...

I'll check a few resources I've got that might have some of that info.

Permalink to Comment

3. anon on January 2, 2014 12:43 PM writes...

Unfortunately Pauson died this december

Permalink to Comment

4. Erebus on January 2, 2014 1:59 PM writes...

Looks like 1887 - 1962 for Christian Dantsizen, which seems to fit.

Permalink to Comment

5. dearieme on January 2, 2014 2:18 PM writes...

"first isolation of phosphorus": good grief, that came up as a question on University Challenge (BBC) last night. Is this evidence of a worldwide conspiracy?

New Year resolution: end all comments with a question to which the answer is "no".

Permalink to Comment

6. Anonymous on January 2, 2014 3:50 PM writes...

I have one date, 1953, but I have no idea what it might relate to, in case that helps?

Permalink to Comment

7. Colonel Boris on January 2, 2014 5:36 PM writes...

You could always drop Andreas Ludi an email - last time I checked, he was still occupying an office at the top of Bern's Chemistry department.
I had some fun making manganese Prussian blues for him while I was there - beautiful dark brown cubes coming out from concentrated cyanide gels...

Permalink to Comment

8. Derek Lowe Pitcher on January 2, 2014 7:26 PM writes...

How about Derek Lowe. Won the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox.

Permalink to Comment

9. Chris on January 3, 2014 10:39 AM writes...

Denis Rousseau has a wikipedia entry, chairs a department at Yeshiva and seems to be very much alive.

Permalink to Comment

10. Justin Peukon on January 3, 2014 11:53 AM writes...

"I'm on a pace to finish well before my deadline"... ahem. This is the mooooost discouraging quote I've seen. Ever ever. Derek, after this low blow, I bet you will lose 90% of your readers.

Permalink to Comment

11. mike kiener on January 3, 2014 12:08 PM writes...
I think the ACS has provided good sourcing for the info you desire.

Permalink to Comment

12. bigredbruce on January 3, 2014 12:20 PM writes...

I can see why you had difficulty. I made no real headway either using a wide variety of search terms. Hennig Brand seems to have two trees for his death date - 1) 1692 and 2) 1710. Both seem equally prominent on web. I like to think he made 80 so prefer the latter.
I could find nothing on Eduard Simon other than agreement he discovered polystyrene in 1839.
Similarly Charles Watt got a patent for his work in 1851 but found nothing else --- other than a debate between his brother Alexander and one Dr. E. Andreoll about whether Charlies patents should have issued in a letter to the editors debate in 1890 issue of Electrical Engineering. Oh well.

Permalink to Comment

13. eyesoars on January 3, 2014 9:37 PM writes...

Is there an intended date of publication that can be shared?

Will I be able to give this as a gift to someone (and myself) around mid-year, or will I need to find something else for the chemistry nut in my life?

Permalink to Comment

14. ed on January 5, 2014 2:36 AM writes...

maybe he wasnt on your original list, but the identification of isotopes by Frederick Soddy is perhaps one of the most fundamental and undertold stories in chemistry.

Permalink to Comment

15. Oliver on January 5, 2014 4:47 AM writes...

Hi Derek

There used to be a history chemist at the german chemical society, GDCh, which iirc also had a column in one of the smaller journal titles of them.
Maybe give them a call in Germany?

Good luck!

Permalink to Comment

16. simpl on January 5, 2014 8:48 AM writes...

According to Claus was a German-Russian chemist, born 22.01.1796 and died 24.3.1864 in Dorpat, pharmacist, from 1843 professor in Kazan, after 1852 in Dorpat; he worked mainly on platinum metals, finding and naming in 1844 the last of them, ruthenium"

Permalink to Comment

17. simpl apologia on January 5, 2014 9:25 AM writes...

sorry, wrong carl claus. It seems, despite the name, that your one was working in England (for Shell?)

Permalink to Comment

18. Derek Lowe on January 5, 2014 10:38 AM writes...

#14 Ed - got him on there already, you'll be glad to hear!

Permalink to Comment

19. Ed on January 6, 2014 9:17 AM writes...

and if you need some nice pictures of Soddy's work, look here

Permalink to Comment

20. Petros on January 6, 2014 10:07 AM writes...

Possible dates for Charles Watt would be appear to be ca 1786 to 1870. The 1851 census reveals a chemist of that name, and age, in London and a man of that name (and age) died in the same area in 1870

Permalink to Comment

21. Love Child of R.B Woodward on January 6, 2014 11:57 AM writes...

According to John Emsley book " A Shocking History of Phosphorus" Brandt first made Phosphorus in Hamburg, Germany and the year was probably 1669, but the month and day are not recorded, though it must have been night-time.

Permalink to Comment

22. Love Child of R.B Woodward on January 7, 2014 8:21 AM writes...

On the evening of Friday, 24th March 1933, Gibson and Fawcett set out to react ethylene and benzaldehyde at a temperature of 170 deg C and a pressure of 1,900 atm. The apparatus was left overnight and on the Saturday morning was found to have lost some gas. The two chemists raised the pressure back to over 1,900 and left it over the weekend. On the Monday morning there was virtually no pressure left in the apparatus because a leak had developed and all of the benzaldehyde had blown out of the test tube onto the oil. When they dismanted the " bomb", Fawcett noticed a waxy solid in the reaction tube. This was the first recorded observation of polyethylene.
The full story can be found in ICI The Company That Changed Our Lives. 2nd edition. By Carol Kennedy. ISBN 1-85396-160-4.

Permalink to Comment

23. molecular architect on January 7, 2014 3:13 PM writes...

I missed the earlier post soliciting ideas for the book so adding one here. Percy Julian's career makes an interesting story. One of the first prominent black chemists who overcame real adversity to make very important contributions to the industrial synthesis of steroids.

Permalink to Comment

24. Erebus on January 9, 2014 7:47 AM writes...

@23: The entire Syntex/Julian/Progesterone story is a very interesting one. The chemistry was fairly simple, but the implications were very broad!

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry