Once this German chemist mopped up nitric acid with his wife’s cotton apron. To dry the wet spot, Schönbein brought it to the fire. ...To ignite it. This is how he discovered nitrocellulose used to make explosives, celluloid and many other products. However, his wife’s apron was not the only thing to make Schönbein become part of history. In 1840, he investigated white phosphorus oxidation and water electrolysis and chemically produced ozone. In fact, they had known about the existence of ozone before that too: in 1785, Martin van Marum was passing an electric spark through oxygen. However, Schönbein was the only person to describe the chemical production of ozone and give a title to this gas. The source of his inspiration was a pungent smell: “ozo” means “smell” in Greek.
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