Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

January 12 Science History

Learn about the history of science by reading about the significant scientific events that took place on this day in history.

1997 - Charles Brenton Huggins died.

Huggins was a Canadian-American physician who was awarded half the 1966 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his hormonal treatment of prostate cancer. He believed that since the prostate gland is controlled by androgen hormones that perhaps blocking those hormones could help treat any cancerous tissue. He originally had the idea of castrating his patients to block these hormones, but found the same results could be achieved by using female sex hormones.

1903 - Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was born.

Kurchatov was the Soviet nuclear physicist who would lead the Soviet nuclear research program to produce the first Soviet atomic weapon, thermonuclear weapon and the first atomic power plant. He was working on the technical problems involved in producing a chain reaction using uranium when the German invasion of Russia began and halted his research. When intelligence showed the United States and Britain were close to producing a bomb he was reassigned to head the Soviet efforts. His final project was the attempt to produce power from fusion energy.

1899 - Paul Hermann Müller was born.

Müller was a Swiss chemist who was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery that DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was a highly effective poison for anthropods. It was used with great effect against mosquitoes and lice for many years until the environmental effects were cumulative and DDT was banned in the United States in 1972.

1792 - Johan August Arfwedson was born.

Arfwedson was a Swedish chemist who discovered the element lithium. He isolated lithium salt from the mineral petalite. Pure lithium would be isolated by Humphry Davy using electrolysis.

1580 - Jan Baptista van Helmont was born.

Helmont was a Flemish physician and alchemist who introduced the term 'gas' to chemistry. He was the first to identify air was made up of different gases. He was also the first to show the gas given off by burning charcoal was identical to the gas given off during fermentation and called it 'gas sylvestre', better known today as carbon dioxide.

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