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10 Facts About Robert Bunsen in Honor of National Bunsen Burner Day

10 Facts About Robert Bunsen in Honor of National Bunsen Burner Day

Today marks the birthday of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen- the creator of the piece of lab equipment necessary to the instruction of science teachers everywhere: the Bunsen Burner.

In honor of March 31st being National Bunsen Burner Day, here are 10 facts about the man behind the equipment that you may or may not have known.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

  1. Robert Bunsen co-designed the Bunsen burner with Peter Desaga after needing a reliable burner for his laboratory experiments.
  2. Though Bunsen published his design of the Bunsen Burner, he never patented it because he did not wish to profit from his scientific contributions to society.
  3. Bunsen would criticize the direction of science education many years after he was a university student, saying "In my day, we studied science and not, as now so often happens, only one of them."
  4. Before even thinking about publishing his creation of the Bunsen Burner, Bunsen published other important works like the antidote to arsenic poisoning that is still used today. 
  5. It is said that this antidote would later save Bunsen’s own life after an incident where he was poisoned.
  6. Bunsen was a patient man who would teach the introductory courses that other teachers scoffed at: "Bunsen's habit was to assign a scientific task to his students and then to work with a student only as long as required to reach some measure of independence. Many principal players in the history of chemistry can trace their chemical roots back to Bunsen's laboratory. Two of his more famous students were Dmitri Mendeleev and Lothar Meyer. According to accounts, Bunsen was one of the more modest of giants.” 
  7. He was beloved by many of his students and peers, and anecdotes of his life exist today in a collection called “Bunseniana.” 
  8. Despite being one of the world’s most influential chemists, Bunsen’s first love was for geology. Upon his retirement at age 78, he would spend the rest of his time keeping up with geological advancements
  9. It was the 200th anniversary since Bunsen’s birth in 2011.
  10. He was one of the most esteemed scientists of his time, winning the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in 1860, the British Royal Society’s Copley Medal.
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