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Count Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten

Count Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten

Austrian scientist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Austrian scientist
A.K.A. Beckh-Widmanstätten
Countries Austria
Occupations Typographer Naturalist Publisher
Gender male
Birth 13 July 1753 (Graz)
Death 10 June 1849 (Vienna)
Star sign Cancer
Education University of Graz
The details
Biography

Count Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten (13 July 1753 – 10 June 1849) was an Austrian printer and scientist. His name is sometimes given as Alois von Beckh-Widmannstätten or Aloys Beck, Edler von Widmannstätten.

Working life

During his youth, he was trained in the printing art by his father. His family owned exclusive printing rights in the Steiermark province, but this was lost in 1784 and Alois sold the business in 1807. In 1804, he ran a spinning mill in Pottendorf, Austria.

Starting in 1807, he was placed in charge of the Fabriksproduktenkabinett, a private collection of technology owned by the Emperor. In 1808, he was the director of the Imperial Porcelain works in Vienna.

Widmanstätten patterns discovery

In 1808, he independently discovered some amazing patterns, now called Widmanstätten patterns in iron meteorites, by flame-heating a slab of Hraschina meteorite. The different iron alloys of meteorites oxidized at different rates during heating, causing color and luster differences.

He did not publish his discovery, but claimed it only through oral communication. Nevertheless, he received full credit for it, and Carl von Schreibers, director of the Vienna Mineral and Zoology Cabinet, named the structure after Widmanstätten.

However, the Widmanstätten pattern had been observed previously (in 1804) by the English mineralogist William (Guglielmo) Thomson. During the period that he spent in Naples, he discovered these figures by bathing a Krasnojarsk meteorite in nitric acid for the purpose of removing rust. In 1804, he published his discovery in French in the Bibliothèque Britannique, so the full credit of the discovery should be assigned to Thomson due to his chronological priority.

Named after him

  • Widmanstätten patterns of iron meteorites
  • The crater Widmannstätten on the Moon
  • 21564 Widmanstätten asteroid
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References
http://doi.org/10.1016%2F0016-7037(60)90085-5
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510009686531;view=1up;seq=137
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510009686531;view=1up;seq=213
https://books.google.com/books?id=KfjOAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA40#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ul9EAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA433#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ul9EAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA435#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=WONQAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA70#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=rmrGS9s-KewC&pg=PA184#v=onepage&q&f=false
https://d-nb.info/gnd/131716840
https://viaf.org/viaf/6073849
https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q78847
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