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 Nikolay Beketov


Born:   07 January 1827
Deceased:   13 December 1911

Russian physical chemist

      

Famous Russian physical chemist Nikolay Beketov was born on January 7, 1827 to the family of the landowner. Nikolay graduated from First St. Petersburg Gymnasium and was admitted to St. Petersburg University to the department of natural sciences of philosophy faculty. Two years later Beketov exchanged to Kazan University, finished it in 1849 and returned to St. Petersburg. Following four years were dedicated to working in Nikolay Zinin’s laboratory in the Academy of Surgery and Medicine. Beketov defended master’s dissertation and was appointed the research assistant at the department of chemistry of St. Petersburg University. In 1855 Nikolay Beketov became the associate professor of Kharkov University and since that moment his life was linked with that institution – for 32 years Beketov was uninterruptedly teaching and researching in this university.

In 1865 Beketov defended his Doctor dissertation, which had the following name “Studying phenomenon of displacement of some metals over others”. In 1866 Nikolay Beketov was elected the member of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and moved to St. Petersburg. Beketov worked in the chemical laboratory of the Academy and at the same time read lectures at Higher Women Courses.

  In 1860 Nikolay Beketov started reading the course of lectures in physical chemistry in c. In 1864 the scientist organized a department for training physical chemists. The researchers always said that no one could know chemistry without knowing physics and mathematics, as well.  

Scientific activities of the chemist were dedicated to studying how direction of chemical reactions depended on reagents’ condition and environment; what was chemical affinity, and what properties of a substance were responsible for the affinity. Beketov’s doctor dissertation described how concentration of chemical reagents affected direction of the reaction, thus anticipating conclusions of the mass action law. Beketov discovered hydrogen displacement of metals from solutions of their salts and showed that chemical activity of gases depended on pressure. The scientist found out that reactions had two directions and gave a correct definition for the state of equilibrium. Beketov studied displacement of elements from their compounds by other elements and linked these processes with chemical affinity. Striving for connecting chemical phenomena with relative masses and distances between active particles, Nikolay Beketov was very close to the idea that atom properties – mass and radius – defined chemical properties of a substance. Beketov developed “metal displacement series”, which later turned out to be the same as electrode-potential series. Beketov’s ideas of bond “stability” of elements with close values of atomic masses resulted in the suggestion that aluminum was the strongest reduction agent. The scientist performed reduction of some metals from their oxides by means of aluminum under high temperatures, thus laying the basis of aluminothermic process, which is now widely used in metallurgy.

Nikolay Beketov was not just a scientist and a teacher – he was a public figure too. Beketov organized a public library in Kharkov and promoted education. The scientist was also the president of Russian Society of Physical Chemistry. Nikolay Beketov died in St. Petersburg on December 13, 1911.

Source: Krugosvet.ru

 


Tags: Russian scientist Russian science Nikolay Beketov   








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