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Prepared by: Mikhaela Marie C.


Early Years of William Ramsay

Born on Glasgow. Nephew of the geologist Sir Andrew Ramsay. A Scottish chemist. Married to Margaret Johnstone Marshall. Discovered the noble gases Received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1904 "in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air.

Attended the Glasgow Academy and continued education at the University of Glasgow under Thomas Anderson Went to study in Germany at the University of Tbingen with Wilhelm Rudolph Fittig accomplishing doctoral thesis entitled Investigations in the Toluic and Nitrotoluic Acids Appointed Professor of Chemistry at the University College of Bristol in 1879 The current upper school Sir William Ramsay School, based in Hazlemere in High Wycombe, is named after him and was built in 1976.

In 1887
- he succeeded Alexander Williamson to the chair of Chemistry at University College London (UCL).

As early as 18851890
- he published several notable papers on the oxides of nitrogen developing the skills that he would need for his subsequent work.

On the evening of 19 April 1894

- Ramsay attended a lecture given by Lord Rayleigh. Rayleigh had noticed a discrepancy between the density of nitrogen made by chemical synthesis and nitrogen isolated from the air by removal of the other known components. After a short discussion he and Ramsay decided to follow this up.

By August, Ramsay could write to Rayleigh to announce that he had isolated a heavy component of air, previously unknown, which did not appear to have any obvious chemical reactivity. He named the gas "argon". In the years that followed, working with Morris Travers, he discovered neon, krypton, and xenon. He also isolated helium which had been observed in the spectrum of the sun but had not been found on earth. In 1910 he also made and characterized radon.

Ramsays high standing in scientific circles led to his unfortunate endorsement in 1905 of the Industrial and Engineering Trust Ltd.,
- a corporation with a supposed secret process to extract gold from seawater. - The corporation bought property along the English coast to implement the gold-from-seawater process, but the company quickly faded from public view, and never produced any gold.

Noble Gases
The noble gases
- group of chemical elements with very similar properties: under standard conditions, they are all odorless, colorless, monatomic gases, with very low chemical reactivity.

The six noble gases

- helium (He) - neon (Ne) - argon (Ar) - krypton (Kr) - xenon (Xe) - radioactive radon (Rn)

Discovered Neon illuminating advertising signs with Morris W. Travers in 1898.
- when Ramsey and Travers had succeeded in obtaining some pure neon from the atmosphere, they explored its properties using an "electrical gas-discharge" tube that was similar to the tubes used today for neon signs. Travers later wrote, "the blaze of crimson light from the tube told its own story and was a sight to dwell upon and never forget.