Sir William Ramsay

William Ramsay was a renowned Chemist who lived in Britain and made a significant contribution to discovering the inert components in the earth’s atmosphere.

William Ramsay was a renowned Chemist who lived in Britain and made a significant contribution to discovering the inert components in the earth’s atmosphere. He started his scientific career while in university where he studied the properties of toluic acids thus earning a doctorate.

Following the discovery of argon, William set about identifying other inert elements. He successfully identified the elements xenon, neon, and krypton present in the atmosphere. He also studied the radioactive decay of radium and made a significant discovery. He concluded that helium that was earlier believed to exist only on the surface of the sun was produced during the radioactive decay of radium along with argon. This discovery was a major breakthrough and he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He also dabbled with the possibility of extracting gold from seawater, an attempt that proved futile.

Throughout his career, Ramsay made several notable discoveries in the field of inorganic chemistry, which were related to studies of picoline and quinine alkaloids. He also studied stoichiometry and thermodynamics along with his research on properties of solutions of metals. Read on to know more about his life and works.


Who are the parents of Sir William Ramsay?

Recalling his early life, William Ramsay was born as Sir William Ramsay in Glasgow, Scotland. He was named after his father who was an engineer by profession. His mother was Catherine Robertson and Ramsay’s uncle was famous geologist Andrew Ramsay.

Regarding his education, William completed his early education from his native town in the Glasgow Academy and after studying briefly at the University of Glasgow in 1870, he moved to the University of Tübingen for his doctorate studies. Working on his dissertation Investigations in the Toluic and Nitrotoluic Acids under renowned chemist Wilhelm Rudolph Fitting he earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1872.

What is the profession of Sir William Ramsay?

  • After completing his studies, he returned to Glasgow and accepted the position of a research assistant in the chemistry department of Andersen College.
  • In 1879 he moved to the ‘University College of Bristol’ when he was offered the post of Professor. He taught chemistry to the students and even continued his research on the subjects.
  • The year 1881 was an important milestone in his academic career as he was designated as the Principal of the University College of Bristol.
  • However, the most important turn in his career came when he joined University College London as the successor of Alexander Williamson. Presiding over the chair of Chemistry in the institution, he made numerous significant discoveries during his tenure.
  • Some of the earliest researches he conducted were on oxides of nitrogen that were published between the years1885-90.
  • In 1894, he was introduced to the works of John William Strutt, who was working on isolating components of air. While one such experiment John had noted that there existed a difference between the densities of isolated nitrogen when compared to chemically synthesized nitrogen.
  • In August the same year, Ramsay who maintained steady correspondence with Strutt mentioned his discovery of inert gas argon. He attributed the difference in weight of isolated nitrogen and chemically synthesized nitrogen to this chemically unreactive gas.
  • He then collaborated with Morris William Travers during the years 1895-1898, to discover several other inert gasses like xenon, neon, and krypton present in the atmosphere. In other studies, Ramsay conducted during 1903 led to the discovery that the inert gas helium which was believed to exist only in the sun’s interior also existed in the Earth’s interior. Helium along with another inert gas radon were the by-products formed continuously during the radioactive decay of radium.
  • Ramsay’s achievement received due appreciation and the eminent chemist was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1904.
  • His reputation was wide-spread and when this eminent chemist was approached to suggest a location for setting up the ‘Indian Institute of Science’ he named Bangalore. His close friend and colleague Morris William Travers were made the founding director of the institute.
  • Between the years 1911-1912, he presided over the British Science Association.


What are the achievements of Sir William Ramsay?

  • A blue plaque at number 12 Arundel Gardens, Notting Hill, commemorates his life and work.
  • The Sir William Ramsay School in Hazlemere and Ramsay grease are named after him.
  • Leconte Prize (1895)
  • Barnard Medal for Meritorious Service to Science (1895)
  • Davy Medal (1895)
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1904)
  • Matteucci Medal (1907)
  • Elliott Cresson Medal (1913)
  • Google Doodle (2019)

Has Sir William Ramsay won a Nobel prize?

Sir William won the Nobel Prize in 1904 in recognition of his services in the discovery of the inert gaseous elements in the air. After winning the award, Ramsay continues to investigate other atmospheric gases such as helium, neon, krypton, and xenon leading to the development of a new section of the periodic table. Ramsay lived in Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire, until his death.

How William Ramsay died?

As per online sites, The visionary chemist breathed his last on July 23, 1916, after battling nasal cancer in Buckinghamshire, England. He was interred at the parish church of Hazlemere.

Who was Sir William Ramsay married to?

Reflecting on his personal life, William was a married man before his death. He exchanged nuptial vows with Margaret Johnstone Marshall Buchanan in the year of 1881. The couple was blessed two children, a daughter named Catherine Elizabeth (Elska) and a son called William George.

What were Sir William Ramsay Body Measurements?

As per the online site, William has a decent height and weight before his death. He has a handsome look and a brilliant mind. For this reason, he discovers was great value in the field of science. As of now, we have no information about his body statistics and net worth. In the case of disclosed, we will let you know.

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