8 December – 1850-1860: Silliman, Bunsen & Parkes
Day 8 of our chemistry advent timeline includes three scientists involved in the development of oil chemistry, the Bunsen burner, and the first semi-synthetic plastic respectively.
Benjamin Silliman Jr. was instrumental in the development of the oil industry. His father, Benjamin Silliman Sr., was also a distinguished chemist, and an early supporter of women’s education. He opened his lectures at Yale University to women, contributing to their eventual admittance as students at the university.
Robert Bunsen is best known for his eponymous burner, still used in schools today. He also used spectroscopy to identify new elements.
Alexander Parkes invented the first semi-synthetic plastic, parkesine.