This Day in History August 9, 1776

By Ruth on August 8, 2011 in history, science
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I am certain no one here was alive when this person was born (I know, bad joke).  This is a portrait of Amedeo Avogadro, a very important and famous chemist.  I have never heard of him, but that is why I love this–I get to learn just like you do.  
Now, what was this Italian chemist known for?  Avogadro’s Law!  And now a light bulb of recognition is on top of your head, and being the great scientist you are, you understand perfectly, right?
Actually, this is probably more like it.  Let me briefly explain this law.  His law states that equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules.  It was not accepted until after his death when another scientist was able to explain it a little better.  Avogadro was the first person to talk about particles (that we now call atoms) that comprised molecules.  This is the part that makes the most sense to me.  There is something called Avogadro’s number:  
6.023×1023
 
To quote someone who understands it better than I do, here is what that number tells you:  

“It is the number of molecules of any gas present in a volume of 22.41 L and is the same for the lightest gas (hydrogen) as for a heavy gas such as carbon dioxide or bromine.” (http://www.chemistry.co.nz/avogadro.htm)

A lot of his personal life is not well-documented.  We know he had six children and may have been a lady’s man (as they often were back then).  It sounds like he some political issues that caused him to lose his job at
Turin University.  But they reinstated him a few years later.  He died July 9, 1856.  No one knows how (I did look it up because when I taught about musicians in the classroom, that is always the question the students would ask!!)

Website sources used:
http://chemistry.about.com/od/famouschemists/a/avogadro.htm
http://www.chemistry.co.nz/avogadro.htm

 

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