July 11: Alexander Prokhorov, Theodore Maiman, Johan Wallerius; lasers, masers, and soil chemistry

Alexander Prokhorov

Australian-born Soviet physicist Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov was born on 11 July 1916 (as Alexander Michael Prochoroff) in Peeramon, Queensland.

Aleksandr mikhailovich prokhorov
Aleksandr Prokhorov (Credit: Nobel Foundation)

For his pioneering work on lasers and masers, Prokhorov shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics with fellow Soviet Nikolay Basov and American Charles H. Townes.


Theodore Maiman

American physicist Theodore Harold Maiman was born on 11 July 1927.

Theodore maiman with the world's first laser
Theodore Maiman with the world’s first laser (Credit: Los Angeles Reader)

Maiman is widely credited with the invention of the laser. In the 1960s, he developed, demonstrated, and patented a laser using a pink ruby medium.

Johan Wallerius, founder of agricultural chemistry

Swedish chemist and mineralogist Johan Gottschalk Wallerius was born on 11 July 1709.

Johan gottschalk wallerius
Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (Litho by Otto Henrik Wallgren)

Wallerius is considered the founder of agricultural chemistry. His 1761 work Agriculturae fundamenta chemical, a thesis on the role of chemistry in the development of agriculture, established the idea that the chemical composition of both the plants and the soil were to be comparatively studied.

Gottschalk studied mathematics, physics and medicine, and after graduating established a course in chemistry that allowed students in pharmacy and chemistry to witness demonstrations and practice themselves with the experiments.

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