The headlines for scientific research success are well known. We are familiar with the fact that medicines and vaccines are developed and tested. Those outside the scientific community will not fully appreciate all the experiment work that led to breakthroughs. Throughout history, scientific glassware experiments have been an important part of research discovery. In this blog, we highlight experimental scientific research that has changed the world.
In the 1800s the inquisitive nature of Louis Pasteur led him to several discoveries that still influence how we live today. The work of Louis Pasteur on fermentation involved scientific glassware experiments that resulted in the creation of the pasteurisation process. Pasteur’s experiments with microorganisms enabled him to begin to understand bacteria.
During his research, Pasteur discovered ways to control disease. This led to the development of vaccines and disease prevention. One of Pasteur’s most life-changing experiments showed that bacteria could be killed by heat and disinfectant. This discovery radically changed the way the medical profession worked. Medical staff started to wash their hands and sterilise instruments saving millions of lives.
Following on from the research of bacteria by Louis Pasteur, Andrew Fleming developed the first antibiotic penicillin in 1928. The discovery occurred while Fleming was studying influenza. During experimenting with various cultures in glass Petri dishes, Fleming identified a mould that was resistant to bacteria.
The scientific experiments that Fleming performed are a crucial part of how we understand bacteria today. In the work, Fleming identified a way that bacteria could be killed. After the discovery of penicillin scientists, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain produced a drug injection that transformed the world of medicine.
Scientific glassware experiments are mostly associated with chemistry and biology. However, the work of physicist Robert Millikan used glass chambers to measure the course of charged water droplets in an electric field. In the early experiments, Millikan noticed that the water evaporated too quickly, so switched to using oil as a longer-lasting substance.
The oil drop experiments become increasingly sophisticated and eventually demonstrated that electrons had a unit of charge. From such a brilliant experiment proving that electrons existed with a definite charge, all particle physics discoveries followed on from this research.
Marie and Pierre Curie
The dedicated work of Marie and Pierre Curie with radioactive material involved a great number of experiments using scientific glassware. Marie and Pierre created their own laboratory and funded their research with teaching jobs. Their ground-breaking research began with a fascination in the radioactive mineral called pitchblende. During scientific glassware experiments, they ground up samples of pitchblende, dissolved them in acid and separated the different elements present. From these experiments, they extracted a black powder 330 times more radioactive than uranium, which they called polonium. With further hard work the Curie’s eventually isolated radium.
After Pierre’s death in 1906, Marie kept on working. Her interest in radioactive material led her to gain a second Nobel Prize for creating a technique to measure radioactivity. It is the legacy of Pierre and Marie Curies research that contributed to the treatment of cancer we know today and the development of X rays.
How Scientific Glassware Experiments Changed the World
The history of scientific research has a common theme of individuals fascinated by the world who want to discover what it is made of. These scientists dedicated time and energy in developing experiments to witness chemical, physical and biological reactions. At the centre of these experiments was scientific glassware. The heat and chemical resistant properties of glass made the equipment a valuable tool. Scientific glassware experiments are crucial to the research work that has changed and developed the world we live in.