Traveling with the Atom

Allegheny College

(compiled by Dr.Glen E. Rodgers)


Robert Bunsen
German Physicist

Contribution to the Development of the Atomic Concept
Robert Bunsen (with Gustav Kirchhoff), working at the University of Heidelberg, invented the first spectroscope.  Using this device, they discovered the elements and cesium (1860) and rubidium (1861).  Bunsen developed his burner in 1855.  It gave off very little light of its own and therefore was ideal for spectroscopic work.

Web Sources of Biographical Information and Original Papers
Woodrow Wilson Web Site
Robert Wilhelm Bunsen
European Network for Chemistry
"Chemical Analysis by Observation of Spectra"
Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen
Annalen der Physik und der Chemie Vol. 110 (1860).  This site has an excellent figure showing their spectroscope.

Selected Biographical Books, Sections of Books, and Articles
Full biographical information on Sacks' book Uncle Tungsten pp 215-218
Full biographical information on Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd Ed.  pp 374-375

Some Scientific/Historical Traveling Sites
Statue and house where spectroscopic work was done (plaque says "In this house Kirchhoff and Bunsen applied their spectral analysis to sun and stars and thereby opened up the chemistry of the universe"(1)* Corner of Akademiestrasse and Hauptstrasse, Heidelberg
Small museum with bust of Bunsen, spectrometer, original samples of cesium and rubidium salts, polarimeter, chromic acid battery(3)* Foyer of the lecture rooms of the Chem. Inst., Neuerheimerfeld No. 252, Heidelberg University
Burial Plot (with several photos) Bergfriedhof Cemetery
Heidelberg, Germany
* see following Rodgers link to scientific/historical sites for further information.
(1) Taken from The Scientific Traveler, Charles Tanford and Jacqueline, John Wiley & Sons, NY (1992).
(2) Taken from A Travel Guide to Scientific Sites of the British Isles, Charles Tanford and Jacqueline Reynolds, John Wiley & Sons, NY (1995).
(3) Taken from Guide of Eurpoean Museums with collections on History of Chemistry, compiled by Jan W. van Spronsen, Federation of European Societies, Antwerp (1996)

Link to Dr. Rodgers' Scientific/Historical Site on Bunsen.

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