Talk:Robert Bunsen

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Robert Bunsen[edit]

this information is great robert bunsen is a really haard book to find Interesting, so he was the master-blaster of chemistry by that age. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:46, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Q: what contribution did he have on an atom?[edit]

reply to Q[edit]

your Q is too vague. Buh what can we do??

He never looked into what an atom is to the same depth as Dalton, but his contribution could be more describe d as enabling research on the elements by inventing (and co-inventing) proper analytical techniques. The spectroscope with Ki HEJ rchhoff, his subsequent discovery of Rb & Cs, and the gas-analytical methods that enabled the separation of noble gases by his students Ramsay who later (spectroscopically!) discovered Argon, etc. Also, early versions of the periodic table surely had some of his influence - (in that context: Mendeleev studied with Bunsen).--Carboxen 06:07, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (signature added later, Dec 18 2005 posted)

Roscoe's involvement in the Bunsen Burner[edit]

I'm writing my masters thesis on Roscoe and as such have become somewhat anal about him and his research. It is stated that Roscoe and Bunsen have a 'ten year collaboration' which in the the next sentence is said to be discontinued a mere seven years after it commenced. Also, I HALÅ and deep inside diaries of his students of the time. The reference I refer to has a long list of Bunsen's students and their dates of being in his lab (no need to be fluent in German). Best wishes, --Carboxen 06:17, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

rude graffiti[edit]

someone had added rudt and explicit entries to this entry, but i have deleted it. hopefully there is none of it left. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Bigpapaboogaloo (talkcontribs) 12:08, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Thank you Bigpapaboogaloo!
By the way, you can also use the revert function, it is easy to use and by that you just re-establish the last correct version again - no need to correct lin-by-line. Feel free to ask me or anyone for help if you want to learn how, or follow this link here. Also, please sign your posts by adding --~~~~ at the end of your text (this automatically creates your user name, time, and date). Best wishes, --Carboxen 10:36, 14 November 2006 (UTC)


  • Crew, H. "Robert Wilhelm Bunsen". Astrophysical Journal. 10: 301.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

i need to find more about what inspierd him to make the busen burner can someine help me with that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:14, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award reference[edit]

I've added a reference to the Bunsen-Kirchoff Award. I put it in the general bio at the top, because I did not see a better place for it in the article. Maybe another section should be created for this mention, but it seemed silly to create a new section for this one sentence. Please feel free to modify it as you see fit. thanks, -Tzf (talk) 17:41, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Baly/Collie anecdote[edit]

The anecdote about Bunsen's wedding day, recently added to this article, was taken from an obituary of Norman Collie written by Baly. I do not doubt that Collie related such an anecdote concerning Bunsen, but this story is unattested anywhere else in the literature on Robert Bunsen. Collie never studied under Bunsen in Heidelberg; he studied for one year under Wislicenus in Wurzburg, in 1883-84 (when Bunsen was 72). Doubtless he heard this anecbvbcdote from someone, almost certainly at second hand, but it is very likely there is no truth to it. Seeing as there is no evidence for the truth of the anecdote other than this third-hand (!) report, it does not belong in a short article on the life of Bunsen. I intend to remove it. Ajrocke (talk) 18:35, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Combined birth date discussions[edit]

Most authorities cite Bunsen's birth date as 31 March 1811. However, Christine Stock's extensive research has definitively established 30 March 1811 as the correct date. Bunsen himself cited this date in two different curriculum vitae, written respectively in 1851 and 1856 (see Stock's work, cited in the article under Further Reading, pp. v, xv, xxix and xxx).Ajrocke (talk) 20:32, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

There are more authorities who cite 30 March, e.g., Georg Lockemann, Neue Deutsche Biographie (1957), Hans Schimank, Die Grossen Deutschen (1956) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:30, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

According to today's google doodle it's the 31st... and those guys tend to do their research quite well before posting facts on the most accessed website on the internet. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:32, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Impressive reasoning... Google can't be wrong. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 10:25, 31 March 2011 (UTC) (talk) 10:24, 31 March 2011 (UTC) Special thing about the birth date is that maybe at some parts of the world the wishes would come on the day before and according to some on the day after and by many on the same day. :D

corrected birth date[edit]

Before someone is going to insert the 31st March again, probably inspired by Google, a short comparison of the sources:



  • 1957 Neue Deutsche Biographie, the direct successor of the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
  • a 2011 pharmaceutical science journal, where this topic is precisely discussed and Bunsen's parish register and two self-written curricula vitae are cited
  • the website of his former university

--Mai-Sachme (talk) 10:55, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Gaurav Dhar (talk) 11:08, 31 March 2011 (UTC) Special thing about the birth day in any case is that the wishes would come on the day before by some, the day after by some and on the same day by many (If 0001 hrs is the wishing time). Relativity defined. Cheers! Signature - Gaurav Dhar

Edit request from Jmsim, 31 March 2011[edit]

Please change Robert Bunsen's birthday to March 31. It is currently listed as March 30. Source: Google.

Jmsim (talk) 12:14, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

See discussion above, Google is obviously wrong. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 12:23, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from, 31 March 2011[edit]

Please change "Born March 30 1811" to "Born March 31 1811" because the date of birth currently provided on this page is incorrect as per every other biography on the internet. (talk) 14:46, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Sources on the birth date[edit]

March 30[edit]

[cited in article]

March 31[edit]

Contradictory sources[edit]

  • HUMANIZING SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS BY COMMEMORATING MARCH ANNIVERSARIES, JD Teller, School Science and Mathematics, Volume 43, Issue 3, pages 234–250, March 1943:

    Although the Britannica {12} gives the date of Bunsen’s birth as March 31, Weeks (37: 183) says that this is uncertain

    • Britannica {12} = The Encyclopaedia Britannica (Fourteenth Edition). London, The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company, Ltd., 1937.
    • Weeks (37: 183) = Weeks, Mary Elvira, The Discovery of the Elements. Easton, Pennsylvania, Mack Printing Company, 1935. iii+371 pp.

Please add other relevant sources to the above...I see that there may be some academic dispute regarding the birth date, but there are a number of quality sources that repeat the March 31st claim. — Scientizzle 15:02, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Repeat is the key word here. They copied the date without doing actual research about his life. Those who did and actually discussed the date controversy, came the conclusion that March 30th is the true birth date. This article states in reference 1 that both Bunsen's hand-written curriculum vitae from 1851 (Archive of the University of Breslau, F 25, Bd 1, 66) and his curriculum vitae from presumably 1856 (Library of the University of Heidelberg, Heid. Hs. 2741, V, 231) and the parish register Göttingen St. Marien 1794-1823, Bl. 80 Nr. 23 mention unambiguously 30 March 1811 as his birth date. Further the reference cites a newly published article Wann wurde Robert Wilhelm Bunsen geboren? (When was Robert Wilhelm Bunsen born?), written by M. Quack and published in the Bunsen-Magazin 13,2 (2011), 56-57. So, from my point of view there seems to be a very long line of copying in English literature... The Neue Deutsche Biographie removed the mistake of its predecessor Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie already in the 50ies. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 15:23, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not disagreeing with you that a mistake may have been perpetuated...however, for those that can't read German (such as me, sadly), it's not really possible to effectively evaluate these claims. I made this edit to reflect the confusion in the sources and also to stem the tide of protected edit requests freaking out about the "error". This sort of runs up against "verifiability, not truth", and it's just getting extra attention courtesy of Google. I think a sentence in the bio section that explains the confusion may be very useful, but I don't feel equipped to write it due to my incapability of reading your sources. — Scientizzle 15:30, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I have to admit that i totally disagree with your interpretation of Wikipedia:Verifiability, which, in effect, suggests that only English sources are adequate for Wikipedia and excludes presumably half of the worldwide scientific output. But anyway, let's see, what we can do. I'd really regret if this obvious mistake would be endlessly perpetuated through Wikipedia. What do you think of my proposal? We insert the following sentence in the Life and work section: In literature two different birth dates are found: While March 31st is mentioned by the Encyclopedia Brittanica and still used in newer publications (ref, ref), recent research, considering Bunsen's parish register and a hand-written curriculum vitae, has lead to the assumption that March 30th might be his true birth day.(ref, ref) Given that I'm not a native speaker of English I'd appreciate if you corrected my suggestion :-) --Mai-Sachme (talk) 15:53, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Okay, not necessarily "recent" research, the Neue Deutsche Biographie corrected it already in the 50ies. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 15:59, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting that only English sources are adequate in the least, merely that I am unable to properly meet WP:V requirements myself since I lack the linguistic skills required. Additionally, I worried about confusing English-speaking readers who are being exposed to a lot of assertions that contradict each other with one side only really explained in German.
I like your proposal and would be happy to assist. I think we can also add an {{anchor}} to the birth dates presented in the lead and the infobox directly leading the reader to the discussion on the discrepancy. That would allow us to remove the pile of references in the first sentence, too. — Scientizzle 16:06, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
What do you think of this? We can trim the references, but I think it captures the confusion and provides a good set of information. — Scientizzle 16:17, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Fine, but isn't there a while missing in front of the other research? In the meantime I'm trying to get Quack's article which is, as far as I can gather, the only one dealing with this topic. Maybe he provides some clarifying information. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 16:26, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Further cleanup. Thanks for doing some more research! — Scientizzle 16:28, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Nice job everyone. I ended up here from Google's Doodle and am happy to see the professionalism behind this birth date contradiction. Michael (talk) 19:38, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's not easy to get the Bunsen-Magazin (online-access is restricted to members of the German Society for Physical Chemistry and no library in my city has this journal), so it may take a couple of days. But I guess we have heaps of time until his 250th birthday :-) --Mai-Sachme (talk) 20:31, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Update: I got the article faster than I had hoped. Quack is, in fact, more cautious about his conclusions than me. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 21:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I reformulated the sentence and added Quack's article, please check my writing. We could probably remove 1 or 2 of the 6 references. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 21:42, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

New and Definitive Source[edit]

I think I can satisfy all that March 30 is the true birth date. In 2007 Christine Stock published a superb critical edition of all archival manuscript sources connected with Bunsen's life up to the year 1852; I added this source to the "Further Reading" section of the Wikipedia article some time ago. I have the Stock volume in front of me (I am a native English-speaking historian of science, who also is fluent in German). On p. xxix appears a full and careful transcription of Bunsen's curriculum vitae, written by himself on 7 June 1851. On pp. xxix-xxx appears a second transcription of another of Bunsen's handwritten curriculum vitae, written ca. 1856. Both documents clearly indicate that Bunsen gave March 30 as his birthdate. What probably happened is that one of the earliest biographers (probably Henry Roscoe) got the date wrong, and all subsequent biographers followed his lead. This sort of thing happens surprisingly often, which is why it doesn't mean much to multiply older references to a historical mistake, when the datum can be shown to be wrong by newly published information. Can someone now change the article to reflect this ?Ajrocke (talk) 13:05, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I've added the Stock citation directly to the claim, removed 31 March from the birth dates, and adjusted the wording here. Do Stock or Quack present a specific opinion on how the error was propagated? If so, I'd like to include that for further context of the disputed date. I've also set an {{anchor}} allowing direct linking to the discussion within the article body.
Can I also say how cool I think it is to be able to work with knowledgeable individuals around the world in real-time to fix something that many authoritative sources (e.g., Encyclopædia Britannica) appear to have wrong! Quite a privilege. — Scientizzle 14:55, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
As I wrote above, Quack is more cautious about his conclusions. Actually, his article is more an anthology of opinions and facts with a splash of scepticism about the possibility to determine the truth once for all time. He also reports that his first biographer Heinrich Debus noted that Bunsen used to celebrate his birthday on March 31 in his later years. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 16:21, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
That's really interesting, and a tidbit that I think should go in the's this? Would you support returning the "30 or 31 March" to the top lines? — Scientizzle 16:27, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
My mistake: Not Heinrich Debus, but de:Georg Lockemann wrote about the birthday celebrations. I guess you should use the reference given by Quack: Georg Lockemann, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen. Lebensbild eines deutschen Naturforschers, Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1949 --Mai-Sachme (talk) 16:33, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I think we could keep the article as it is now. The date dispute is reported adequately. --Mai-Sachme (talk) 16:59, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree that the article is basically fine as it is. But I have now looked up the Lockemann reference; it is on p. 18 of his biography. Lockemann received his PhD at Heidelberg while Bunsen was still alive, and is a reliable source. He does not doubt that the correct birthdate is the 30th, for he actually examined the birth certificate and the hand-written CVs by Bunsen himself. He then says it is strange that so many sources falsely list the 31st; "und was noch sonderbarer ist" ("even odder"), in his last years Bunsen did celebrate his birthday on the 31st. I'll make a slight change in the article to reflect this. (talk) 19:47, 1 April 2011 (UTC)Sorry, I had neglected to log in.Ajrocke (talk) 19:48, 1 April 2011 (UTC)