Chemists

Chemists are the scientists who specialize in the field of chemistry. They investigate the chemical nature of substances and how they behave under different conditions to search for new knowledge. Compounds, both organic and inorganic, are examined to determine their chemical and physical properties, composition, structure, and reactivity. Chemists try to decode the details of the chemical molecules and their component atoms. The knowledge gained through research is used to understand the composition and properties of unknown substances, and is used in practical applications in industries. Since chemicals play a vital role in virtually all types of industries, chemists are employed in various industrial establishments, especially those dealing in plastics, medicines, pharmaceuticals, and chemical industries. They also work in research and in university teaching positions. Newer discoveries and findings in the field of chemistry lead to the development of better products, processes and analytical methods. Chemistry is a vast field divided into several overlapping sub-branches: analytical chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, etc. Chemists primarily work in laboratories and use a variety of techniques in their research like spectroscopy, chromatography, and spectrophotometry. Read on to discover about the life and works of various famous chemists, through their biographies and timelines, from all over the world.
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 1 
Marie Curie
(Physicist Who Conducted Pioneering Research on 'Radioactivity' and First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize)

Marie Curie
12
Birthdate: November 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: July 4, 1934
Amongst the most notable scientists of her time, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the sole person to win two Nobel Prize in two different category, and the first woman professor at the University of Paris—Marie Curie’s list of achievements is incredible. She did extensive research in the field of radioactivity and discovered polonium and radium.

 2 
Michael Faraday
(Scientist)

Michael Faraday
6
Birthdate: September 22, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newington Butts, London, England
Died: August 5, 1867

Michael Faraday was an English scientist known for his contribution to the study of electrochemistry and electromagnetism. Considered one of the most influential scientists ever, Faraday's inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices established the basis for electric motor technology. His research also helped understand the concept of the electromagnetic field. Ernest Rutherford called him one of the greatest scientific discoverers ever.

 3 
Louis Pasteur
(Chemist and Microbiologist)

Louis Pasteur
12
Birthdate: December 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dole, France
Died: September 28, 1895
Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  

 4 
George Washington Carver
(Agricultural scientist)

George Washington Carver
4
Birthdate: December 27, 1822, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Diamond, Missouri, United States
Died: January 5, 1943
Agricultural scientist George Washington Carver is best remembered for promoting crops that were alternative to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes. He invented ways to prevent soil depletion and developed scores of products made from peanuts, including paints and cosmetics. He won numerous honors, such as the Spingarn Medal.
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 5 
Dmitri Mendeleev
(Inventor of Periodic Table)

Dmitri Mendeleev
6
Birthdate: February 8, 1834
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tobolsk
Died: February 2, 1907
Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev created the Periodic Law and his version of the Periodic Table of Elements that revolutionized the field of chemistry. His table was independent of German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer’s version of the table. Mendeleev also assisted in the development of the first oil refinery in Russia.

 6 
Alfred Nobel
(Chemist)

Alfred Nobel
6
Birthdate: October 21, 1833
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden
Died: December 10, 1896

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, and inventor. A prolific inventor, he held 355 different patents. Most popular as the inventor of dynamite, he was concerned with how he would be remembered after his death and bequeathed his fortune to the Nobel Prize institution. A wide traveler, he was proficient in several languages.

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 7 

Rosalind Franklin
8
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 
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 8 

Ernest Rutherford
6
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brightwater, New Zealand
Died: October 19, 1937

New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford is remembered as the father of nuclear physics. His discovery of radioactive half-life and of radon, and his differentiation of alpha and beta radiation, won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. Element 104 was named rutherfordium in his honor.

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 9 

Antoine Lavoisier
8
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

 10 
Linus Pauling
(Chemist, Biochemist)

Linus Pauling
8
Birthdate: February 28, 1901
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: August 19, 1994

Only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, Linus Carl Pauling was an American theoretical physical chemist, who received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on nature of chemical bond and 1962 Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts to stop nuclear weapon testing. Also a prolific writer and educator, he has published 1,200 books and papers.  

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 11 
John Dalton
(Chemist, Physicist and Meteorologist Best Known for Developing the 'Atomic Theory')

John Dalton
6
Birthdate: September 6, 1766
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England
Died: July 27, 1844

John Dalton was an English chemist, physicist, and meteorologist most famous for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry. He also contributed a lot to the study of color blindness, sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honor. He was the first scientist to refer to the smallest particle of matter as an “atom.” He was a Quaker and lived modestly. 

 12 
Robert Boyle
(Founder of Modern Chemistry, Boyle's Law)

Robert Boyle
5
Birthdate: January 25, 1627
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: December 30, 1691

Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish chemist, natural philosopher, inventor, and physicist. Regarded as the first modern chemist, Boyle is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry. One of the pioneers of the scientific method, Robert Boyle is also remembered for his books, including The Sceptical Chymist, which is viewed as a keystone book in chemistry.

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 13 
Fritz Haber
(Chemist)

Fritz Haber
7
Birthdate: December 9, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 29, 1934

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the Haber-Bosch process. The process is used widely to synthesize ammonia from hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas. For his pioneering work in weaponizing poisonous gases like chlorine during World War I, Haber is referred to as the father of chemical warfare.

 14 
Joseph Priestley
(Discoverer of Oxygen)

Joseph Priestley
5
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birstall, England
Died: February 6, 1804

Best remembered for his contribution to the chemistry of gases, Joseph Priestley was an English scientist, clergyman, political theorist and educator, who has been credited with discovering oxygen independently, publishing his findings before Carl Wilhelm could. A prolific writer, he has authored 150 works on various subjects including electricity. He also contributed immensely to the advancement of political and religious thoughts.

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 15 
Amedeo Avogadro
(Chemist and Physicist)

Amedeo Avogadro
5
Birthdate: August 9, 1776
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: July 9, 1856

Son of a reputed senator and lawyer in Italy, Amedeo Avogadro was himself a qualified lawyer. However, he later delved into research as a mathematical physicist and is best remembered for laying down the Avogadro’s law, contributing to the molecular theory of gases. The Avogadro constant is named after him.

 16 
Henry Moseley
(Physicist)

Henry Moseley
4
Birthdate: November 23, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Weymouth, Dorset, England
Died: August 10, 1915

Henry Moseley was an English physicist best known for his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra. He made major contributions to the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and quantum physics. He was working at the University of Oxford when World War I broke out, following which he went to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army. 

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 17 
Henry Cavendish
(English Scientist Who Discovered Hydrogen)

Henry Cavendish
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1731
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: February 24, 1810

English natural philosopher, scientist, and a prominent experimental and theoretical physicist and chemist Henry Cavendish is best-remembered for his discovery of hydrogen and his Cavendish experiment. He first recognized that hydrogen, which he termed inflammable air, is a discrete substance which produces water on combustion. He conducted the Cavendish experiment to measure and produce a value for Earth’s density.

 18 

Hans Christian Ørsted
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1777
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rudkøbing
Died: March 9, 1851

Hans Christian Ørsted was a Danish chemist and physicist. He was the first person to discover that electric currents can be used to create magnetic fields. His discovery was the first relationship found between magnetism and electricity. Oersted, the unit of the auxiliary magnetic field H, is named in his honor.

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 19 
Otto Hahn
(Chemist)

Otto Hahn
5
Birthdate: March 8, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: July 28, 1968
Nobel Prize-winning German chemist Otto Hahn is remembered for revolutionary discovery of nuclear fission, along with Fritz Strassmann. Born to a glazier, he was pushed to study architecture but chose chemistry instead. He spent his final years grieving the death of his only son in a car accident.

 20 
Ahmed Zewail
(Chemist)

Ahmed Zewail
4
Birthdate: February 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Damanhour, Egypt
Died: August 2, 2016

 21 
Frederick Sanger
(Biochemist)

Frederick Sanger
4
Birthdate: August 13, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rendcomb
Died: November 19, 2013

Frederick Sanger remains one of only two people to have won the Nobel Prize twice in the same category. The British biochemist is remembered for his ground-breaking work on nucleic acids and the insulin molecule. The son of a Quaker medical missionary, Sanger, too, grew up believing in Quakerism.

 22 

William Henry Perkin
4
Birthdate: March 12, 1838
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 14, 1907

William Henry Perkin is best remembered for his chance discovery of the dye mauveine, made of aniline purple. He had apparently discovered the dye while attempting to synthesize quinine. The Royal Medal-winning British chemist also studied salicyl alcohol and flavoring agents and synthesized the first artificial perfume.

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 23 
Dorothy Hodgkin
(Biochemist)

Dorothy Hodgkin
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: July 29, 1994

Dorothy Hodgkin received the 1964 Nobel Prize for mapping the structure of penicillin and Vitamin B12. She is also known for her work on insulin. Beginning her work on structure of an organic compound by using X-ray crystallography as an undergraduate student, she later developed it further and used it to determine the three-dimensional structure of complex organic molecules.

 24 

Glenn T. Seaborg
4
Birthdate: April 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ishpeming, Michigan
Died: February 25, 1999

Glenn T. Seaborg was an American chemist who shared the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Edwin McMillan for discovering the first transuranium elements. He also authored or co-authored several books and articles, including 500 scientific journals. In 2005, Glenn T. Seaborg was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 25 

Stephanie Kwolek
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1923
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New Kensington, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: June 18, 2014

Stephanie Kwolek was an American chemist remembered for her invention of Kevlar. She worked at the DuPont Company for over four decades and was awarded the company's Lavoisier Medal for her discovery. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, becoming the fourth woman to be inducted. She also won other awards including the Perkin Medal.

 26 
Robert Bunsen
(Chemist)

Robert Bunsen
4
Birthdate: March 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Göttingen
Died: August 16, 1899

Chemist Robert Bunsen paved the path for spectrum analysis with his discovery that every element emits a light of a particular wavelength. He also co-developed and lent his name to the Bunsen burner. He almost died of arsenic poisoning and lost sight in his right eye in a laboratory explosion.

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 27 
Svante Arrhenius
(Scientist)

Svante Arrhenius
4
Birthdate: February 19, 1859
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vik
Died: October 2, 1927

Svante Arrhenius was a Swedish scientist who became the first Swedish person to win a Nobel Prize when he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. Although he was originally a physicist, Arrhenius is widely accepted as a chemist and is best remembered for co-founding physical chemistry. Stockholm University houses the Arrhenius Labs, which is named in his honor.

 28 

Josiah Willard Gibbs
4
Birthdate: February 11, 1839
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 28, 1903

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist best remembered for making major theoretical contributions to mathematics, physics, and chemistry. As a mathematician, Gibbs is credited with inventing modern vector calculus. In 1901, he was honored with the prestigious Copley Medal for his contributions. Josiah Willard Gibbs's work had a major influence on physicists like J. D. van der Waals.

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 29 

William Ramsay
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: July 23, 1916

The son of a civil engineer, Nobel Prize-winning Scottish chemist William Ramsay revolutionized science with his pathbreaking discovery of the noble gases, thus forming an entirely new segment of the periodic table. He is also remembered for his long association with UCL. He was knighted for his achievements.

 30 

Justus von Liebig
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1803
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: April 18, 1873

German chemist Justus von Liebig is best known for his research on organic compounds and his contribution to biochemistry and agriculture. The Copley Medal-winning scientist initially studied pharmacy but later switched to chemistry. As a professor, he stressed on laboratory-based teaching of chemistry and separating it from pharmacy, opposing traditional methods.

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 31 
Jöns Jacob Berzelius
(Chemist, Non-fiction writer, University teacher)

Jöns Jacob Berzelius
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Östergötland
Died: August 7, 1848

Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist who is often counted among the founders of modern chemistry alongside Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, and John Dalton. He is also referred to as the Father of Swedish Chemistry. Jöns Jacob Berzelius is also credited with making immense contributions to the field of stoichiometry. In 1836, he was honored with the Copley Medal.

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
5
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, France
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

 33 

Irène Joliot-Curie
6
Birthdate: September 12, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 17, 1956

Marie Curie and Pierre Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, herself a brilliant scientist, won the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her husband, Joliot-Curie, for discovering artificial radioactivity. She was also one of the first three female French government members. She tragically died of leukemia caused by exposure to radiation.

 34 
Albert Hofmann
(The First Person to Synthesize LSD)

Albert Hofmann
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1906
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Baden
Died: April 29, 2008

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was the first known person to synthesize the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Interested in science from a young age, he studied chemistry at the University of Zürich. As a chemist, he conducted several significant studies and authored more than 100 scientific articles and books. He was a recipient of the prestigious Scheele Award.

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 35 
Tu Youyou
(chemist, pharmacologist, inventor, university teacher)

Tu Youyou
4
Birthdate: December 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ningbo

Chinese phytochemist and malariologist Tu Youyou is best remembered for her Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the anti-malarial drug qinghaosu, or artemisinin. She is the first Chinese female Nobel laureate. A tuberculosis infection in her younger days had inspired her to step into medicine. She later studied traditional Chinese medicine, too.

 36 
Harold Urey
(Chemist)

Harold Urey
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1893
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Walkerton, Indiana, United States
Died: January 5, 1981
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 37 

Mario J. Molina
2
Birthdate: March 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico
Died: October 7, 2020

Mario J. Molina was a Mexican chemist who played a key role in understanding and explaining the threat from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases to the Earth's ozone layer, which earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. Molina was the third Mexican-born Nobel laureate and the first Mexican-born person to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 38 
Friedrich Wöhler
(German chemist)

Friedrich Wöhler
4
Birthdate: July 31, 1800
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Eschersheim
Died: September 23, 1882

Friedrich Wöhler was a German chemist best remembered for his contribution to the field of inorganic chemistry. He was the first person to isolate the chemical elements yttrium and beryllium in pure metallic form. Friedrich Wöhler was also the first person to prepare many inorganic compounds such as silicon nitride and silane.

 39 
Humphry Davy
(Inventor of Davy Lamp)

Humphry Davy
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penzance, England
Died: May 29, 1829

Best remembered for his invention of the Davy lamp, a safety lamp for miners, Humphry Davy initially aspired to be a doctor but later deviated to chemistry. The Copley Medal winner had co-founded the Zoological Society of London. He also excelled in writing poetry and loved fishing.

 40 

George de Hevesy
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: July 5, 1966

Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian-Swedish chemist George de Hevesy is best remembered for his research on isotopic tracer techniques to study animal metabolism. He is also credited with co-discovering the element hafnium with physicist Dirk Coster. He fled the Nazi regime and moved first to Denmark and then to Sweden.

 41 
Charles Macintosh
(Chemist, Inventor)

Charles Macintosh
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1766
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: July 25, 1843

 42 

Percy Lavon Julian
4
Birthdate: April 11, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: April 19, 1975

Percy Lavon Julian was an American chemist whose work paved the way for the production of birth control pills and corticosteroids. Julian went on to start his own company which helped reduce the price of steroid intermediates. In 1973, Percy Lavon Julian was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and became the first African-American to receive this honor.

 43 
Robert Burns Woodward
(Organic Chemist)

Robert Burns Woodward
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: July 8, 1979

 44 
Louis Slotin
(Physicist)

Louis Slotin
4
Birthdate: December 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada
Died: May 30, 1946
While showing his colleagues how to work on a plutonium bomb, Canadian scientist Louis Slotin was exposed to a lethal radioactive dose that first caused him to vomit and then die 9 days later. He had, however, reportedly shielded his colleagues from maximum exposure, thus saving their lives.

 45 
Aleksandr Borodin
(Composer, Chemist)

Aleksandr Borodin
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg
Died: February 27, 1887

Aleksandr Borodin was a Russian musical composer. He was one of the popular 19th-century group of musicians known as The Five, who worked together to create a national style of classical music. A chemist and doctor by profession, Borodin also made important contributions to organic chemistry. His best known work as a chemist is his work pertaining to organic synthesis.

 46 

August Kekulé
4
Birthdate: September 7, 1829
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Darmstadt, Germany
Died: July 13, 1896

August Kekulé was a German organic chemist. Regarded as one of the most important chemists in Europe, Kekulé is credited with founding the theory of chemical structure, including the Kekulé structure of benzene. Kekulé is also credited with teaching future Nobel Prize winners, Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff Jr., Hermann Emil Louis Fischer, and Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer.

Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
3
Birthdate: August 30, 1852
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 1, 1911

Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff was a Dutch physical chemist best remembered for winning the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Van 't Hoff's work helped found the modern theory of chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and chemical affinity. A highly popular theoretical chemist, Van 't Hoff is also counted among the founders of physical chemistry.

 48 
Elias James Corey
(Organic Chemist)

Elias James Corey
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Methuen, Massachusetts, United States

 49 
Thomas Midgley, Jr.
(Mechanical and chemical engineer)

Thomas Midgley, Jr.
4
Birthdate: May 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 2, 1944

Thomas Midgley Jr. was an American chemical and mechanical engineer. Midgley played a key role in the development of leaded gasoline and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were later banned due to their negative impact on the environment and human health. Thomas Midgley Jr. was granted over 100 patents during his lifetime.

 50 

Wilhelm Ostwald
4
Birthdate: September 2, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Riga
Died: April 4, 1932

Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German philosopher and chemist who is credited with co-founding the field of physical chemistry. A polymath, Ostwald made significant contributions to philosophy, art, and politics, especially after his retirement from academic life. His contributions to the fields of reaction velocities, chemical equilibria, and catalysis earned him the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.