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Robert Wilhelm Bunsen

Bunsen, Robert Wilhelm (bŭnˈsən, Ger. rōˈbĕrt vĭlˈhĕlm bŏnˈzən) [key], 1811–99, German scientist, educated at the Univ. of Göttingen, where he received his doctorate in 1830. He served on the faculties of several universities and was at Heidelberg from 1852 to 1889. His first important contribution to chemistry came with his investigation of certain organic compounds of arsenic, in the process of which he discovered that ferric oxide could be used as an antidote to arsenic poisoning. From his studies of the gaseous products of blast furnaces he evolved a method of gas analysis, presented in his book Gasometrische Methoden (1857). With Kirchhoff at Heidelberg he discovered by spectroscopy the elements cesium and rubidium. Bunsen wrote many articles and collaborated with Kirchhoff on Chemische Analyse durch Spektralbeobachtungen (1860). His important contributions to petrology and chemicogeology include the explanation of geyser action. He invented and improved various kinds of laboratory equipment, including the Bunsen cell, the Bunsen photometer (see photometry), and the Bunsen burner.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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