Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fun fact: Saccharin was discovered on this date in 1879

Ball-and-stick model of the saccharin molecule, C7H5NO3S,
as found in the crystal structure
by Ben Mills
In what would now be considered poor laboratory practice Constantin Fahlberg began to consume a meal with hands unwashed after leaving his work. He accidentally discovered saccharin when the bread and water that he was eating at the start of his meal were uncharacteristically sweet due to the residue that was on his hands. Then, in his excitement, he rushed back to the lab and proceeded to taste the contents of the beakers and evaporating dishes one of which contained impure saccharin derived from the coal tar which he was studying.

As with many fortuitous discoveries that is when the real work started. Constantin worked for months determining the modes of production, characteristic reactions and chemical composition of saccharin. Though initially disregarded by the scientific community
his discovery was embraced by the public
 and brought the chemist wealth when he
established a production facility.

For more information on Constantin Fahlberg and his discovery you can visit this site: