The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm

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BUNSEN, Robert Wilhelm, a German chemist, cousin of the preceding, born in Göttingen, March 31, 1811. His father was professor of oriental languages and literature at the university of Göttingen, and the son, after completing his studies at the gymnasium, entered the university, and devoted himself to the study of chemistry and physics. He took his degree of doctor of philosophy in 1830, afterward studied in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, and in 1833 became tutor at the university of Göttingen. In 1834 he published, in conjunction with Berthold, his important research upon the hydrated oxide of iron as an antidote to arsenic. In 1836 he was appointed professor of chemistry at the polytechnic school in Cassel, in 1838 at the university of Marburg, and in 1851 at Breslau, where he planned the best working laboratory at that time to be found on the continent; but he did not remain long enough to complete it, as he accepted in 1852 a call to Heidelberg, where he constructed a still greater laboratory, and has founded one of the most celebrated schools of chemistry in Europe. In 1846 he undertook an important journey to Iceland, during which he devoted special attention to the phenomena of the geysers, examining the waters, the sedimentary deposits, and the gases issuing from the springs. The results of this journey are embodied in a letter to Berzelius written after his return. Bunsen has contributed a large number of original papers to the scientific journals, among the most important of which are those on the cyanogen compounds, examination of the gases of blast furnaces, improvement in galvanic batteries, researches upon kakodyle, preparation of magnesium, aluminum, chromium, and lithium, photo-chemical researches on specific gravity, gas absorption, diffusion, spectrum analysis, and discovery of the new metals cæsium and rubidium. His largest independent publications are: “Journey to Iceland,” “On a new Volumetric Method,” “A Treatise on Gas Analysis,” and “Chemical Analysis by the Spectroscope.” In the course of his investigations he has invented some of our most important aids to scientific research. Bunsen's battery, Bunsen's burner, Bunsen's photometer, and Bunsen's pump have acquired a world-wide use, and are considered indispensable in every laboratory.