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Robert Bunsen

Chemist Robert Bunsen

Full Name: Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen
Profession: Chemist


Biography: Robert Bunsen's scientific achievements go well beyond his invention of the Bunsen burner.

After earning his PhD in chemistry at 19 Bunsen went on to conduct research and teach at Göttingen University and later for 40 years at Heidelberg University. In 1834 he published his first major study, detailing his discovery of the antidote to arsenic poisoning. This came in handy 9 years later when Bunsen himself suffered severe arsenic poisoning while studying an arsenic compound. It exploded and Bunsen lost the use of an eye. His earlier discovery saved his life.

Bunsen went on to invent the zinc-carbon battery in 1841. He also encouraged coal plants to be more efficient by a process of recycling their gases, and published the design of his famous gas burner in 1857.

Along with Gustav Kirchhoff, Bunsen engineered a Spectroscope with a Bunsen Burner. Using the bright lines that showed up in the spectrum, they discovered 2 new elements; cesium in 1860, and rubidium in 1861.

Bunsen even invented flash photography in 1864 with his research student Henry Enfield Roscoe, using light from burning magnesium.

Born: March 30, 1811
Birthplace: Göttingen, Westphalia, Rhine Confederation (now Germany)
Star Sign: Aries

Died: August 16, 1899 (aged 88)

Historical Events

  • 1847-06-14 Robert Bunsen invents the Bunsen burner

Biographies and Sources

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