Stocks and News
Home | Week in Review Process | Terms of Use | About UsContact Us
   Articles Go Fund Me All-Species List Hot Spots Go Fund Me
Week in Review   |  Bar Chat    |  Hot Spots    |   Dr. Bortrum    |   Wall St. History
Stock and News: Hot Spots
  Search Our Archives: 
 

 

Dr. Bortrum

 

AddThis Feed Button

http://www.gofundme.com/s3h2w8

 

   

05/30/2000

Arnold Beckman's Birthday

We all partake of various acids and bases (alkali) on a daily
basis. The types and amounts depend on our choices of food,
drink and medications, with orange juice and vinegar being two
prominent acidic libations. Tums are an example of an alkaline
material taken to counteract excess acid in the tummy or to get
that extra shot of calcium. It''s rather important that we don''t
overdo the acidity or alkalinity of what we ingest. Obviously, we
would be pretty crazy to imbibe a shot of either sulfuric acid
from our car battery or of lye that might be present in a cleaner
for a stopped up drain.

What I''m leading up to is that it''s important to know the degree
of acidity or alkalinity, not only for health purposes but also for a
host of other reasons. The key to the acidity or alkalinity of a
solution is given by a parameter known as the pH of the solution.
What the pH tells you, with a bit of calculation, is the
concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution. Without going
into detail, the pH of pure water or a solution that is neutral,
neither acid nor basic, is 7. The pH scale ranges from 0, very
acid to 14, very basic (alkaline). The pH of your blood is
typically between 7.3 and 7.4, a tad on the alkaline side.

Any sensible discussion of pH would have to include Arnold
Beckman. Over the past month or so, a number of articles in
various media have called attention to this gentleman''s 100th
birthday. I don''t know if Willard Scott of the Today Show
pictured Beckman''s likeness on a jar of Smucker''s jam but if not,
he should have. Beckman has been an inventor, chemist,
businessman and philanthropist and has excelled in all of these
endeavors.

An article in the April 10, 2000 issue of Chemical and
Engineering News cited one of his earliest inventions related to
the Model T Ford. I didn''t know that the early Model T had a
gas tank that was below the level of the carburetor. It seems that
in the 1920s, when one started driving up a steep hill, the gas had
a hard time fighting gravity to feed the engine. According to the
article, a driver would often turn the car around and drive up the
hill backward to remedy the situation. What Beckman did was to
put a bicycle tire valve in the gas cap, pump up the gas tank to
put pressure on the gas and then blithely drive up the hill in the
forward direction. Fortunately, this clever but rather impractical
invention was not what made Beckman famous or we''d all be
pumping up our vehicles every time we came to a hill. The
interstate highway system would never have come into being!

No, it was pH and lemon juice that spurred Beckman to his truly
seminal invention. A friend of his was in the citrus industry and,
in order to meet the legal standards for selling a citrus juice
product, he had to determine the acidity of the fruit. I think that
virtually all of you at one time or another have encountered
litmus paper. You put the litmus paper in a solution and if it''s
acid the paper turns red and if alkaline it turns blue. There are
various types of papers that turn different colors depending on
the pH. However, the sulfur dioxide the citrus juicers used to
preserve the juice bleached the litmus paper and they needed an
instrument to accurately measure the pH.

Beckman''s friend came to him with the problem and in 1934
Beckman came up with his most memorable invention, his
portable "acidimeter", later renamed the Beckman pH meter.
There were methods for measuring the pH but they all suffered
from certain deficiencies, which Beckman overcame through use
of a vacuum tube amplifier. The real impact of his pH meter,
however, was that he put everything in a box, a portable
instrument. Until then, chemists pretty much had to rely on
setting up their own instruments, assembling them from the
components that were available. What Beckman''s pH meter did
was to spur the growth of a scientific and technical
instrumentation industry, perhaps reminiscent of what Henry
Ford did for the auto industry.

By 1939, National Technical Laboratories with Beckman at the
helm had phenomenal sales of $140,000! His inventing
continued with his inventions of the helipot, an instrument that
virtually every experimentalist has used somewhere along the
line, and a spectrophotometer with boundless areas of application
in the analytical field. By the 1950s National Technical
Laboratories was renamed Beckman Instruments and Beckman
was well on his way to making many millions of dollars. Today,
his friends and associates seem united in their praise of Beckman
as a man to be admired for his many human qualities, not just for
his inventiveness and business acumen. Today, the Beckman
Foundation spends some $20 million a year to help fund at least
eight institutes or centers bearing Beckman''s name as well as
educational programs for students in kindergarten through
college.

Beckman was not always the shrewdest of businessmen. Some
credit him with a big hand in the creation of Silicon Valley,
albeit in a rather indirect manner. I''ve touched on this in an
earlier column dealing with some of the early pioneers in the
history of the transistor and integrated circuit. Beckman funded
William Shockley when he set up his own company in
California. Shockley was not a great manager and soon a group
of his staff known as the "traitorous eight" went to Beckman to
try to get him to ease Shockley out in some manner. Beckman
was very loyal to Shockley and refused to remove him so the
eight "traitors" left to join Fairchild. Later, two of them, Robert
Noyce and Gordon Moore, left Fairchild to form Intel and
Silicon Valley was on its way.

All this due to the acidity of lemon juice! The article mentioned
above cited Beckman''s life as "a century of quality". His
marriage of 64 years to his beloved Mabel certainly stands in
contrast to the impermanence of too many unions today.
Beckman apparently was a pianist of some talent, paying for his
education by playing in dance orchestras and in movie houses.
(No sound in those days.) Today, Beckman, when asked what''s
most important to him now, answers, "Breathing." Me, too.

Allen F. Bortrum



AddThis Feed Button

 

-05/30/2000-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Dr. Bortrum

05/30/2000

Arnold Beckman's Birthday

We all partake of various acids and bases (alkali) on a daily
basis. The types and amounts depend on our choices of food,
drink and medications, with orange juice and vinegar being two
prominent acidic libations. Tums are an example of an alkaline
material taken to counteract excess acid in the tummy or to get
that extra shot of calcium. It''s rather important that we don''t
overdo the acidity or alkalinity of what we ingest. Obviously, we
would be pretty crazy to imbibe a shot of either sulfuric acid
from our car battery or of lye that might be present in a cleaner
for a stopped up drain.

What I''m leading up to is that it''s important to know the degree
of acidity or alkalinity, not only for health purposes but also for a
host of other reasons. The key to the acidity or alkalinity of a
solution is given by a parameter known as the pH of the solution.
What the pH tells you, with a bit of calculation, is the
concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution. Without going
into detail, the pH of pure water or a solution that is neutral,
neither acid nor basic, is 7. The pH scale ranges from 0, very
acid to 14, very basic (alkaline). The pH of your blood is
typically between 7.3 and 7.4, a tad on the alkaline side.

Any sensible discussion of pH would have to include Arnold
Beckman. Over the past month or so, a number of articles in
various media have called attention to this gentleman''s 100th
birthday. I don''t know if Willard Scott of the Today Show
pictured Beckman''s likeness on a jar of Smucker''s jam but if not,
he should have. Beckman has been an inventor, chemist,
businessman and philanthropist and has excelled in all of these
endeavors.

An article in the April 10, 2000 issue of Chemical and
Engineering News cited one of his earliest inventions related to
the Model T Ford. I didn''t know that the early Model T had a
gas tank that was below the level of the carburetor. It seems that
in the 1920s, when one started driving up a steep hill, the gas had
a hard time fighting gravity to feed the engine. According to the
article, a driver would often turn the car around and drive up the
hill backward to remedy the situation. What Beckman did was to
put a bicycle tire valve in the gas cap, pump up the gas tank to
put pressure on the gas and then blithely drive up the hill in the
forward direction. Fortunately, this clever but rather impractical
invention was not what made Beckman famous or we''d all be
pumping up our vehicles every time we came to a hill. The
interstate highway system would never have come into being!

No, it was pH and lemon juice that spurred Beckman to his truly
seminal invention. A friend of his was in the citrus industry and,
in order to meet the legal standards for selling a citrus juice
product, he had to determine the acidity of the fruit. I think that
virtually all of you at one time or another have encountered
litmus paper. You put the litmus paper in a solution and if it''s
acid the paper turns red and if alkaline it turns blue. There are
various types of papers that turn different colors depending on
the pH. However, the sulfur dioxide the citrus juicers used to
preserve the juice bleached the litmus paper and they needed an
instrument to accurately measure the pH.

Beckman''s friend came to him with the problem and in 1934
Beckman came up with his most memorable invention, his
portable "acidimeter", later renamed the Beckman pH meter.
There were methods for measuring the pH but they all suffered
from certain deficiencies, which Beckman overcame through use
of a vacuum tube amplifier. The real impact of his pH meter,
however, was that he put everything in a box, a portable
instrument. Until then, chemists pretty much had to rely on
setting up their own instruments, assembling them from the
components that were available. What Beckman''s pH meter did
was to spur the growth of a scientific and technical
instrumentation industry, perhaps reminiscent of what Henry
Ford did for the auto industry.

By 1939, National Technical Laboratories with Beckman at the
helm had phenomenal sales of $140,000! His inventing
continued with his inventions of the helipot, an instrument that
virtually every experimentalist has used somewhere along the
line, and a spectrophotometer with boundless areas of application
in the analytical field. By the 1950s National Technical
Laboratories was renamed Beckman Instruments and Beckman
was well on his way to making many millions of dollars. Today,
his friends and associates seem united in their praise of Beckman
as a man to be admired for his many human qualities, not just for
his inventiveness and business acumen. Today, the Beckman
Foundation spends some $20 million a year to help fund at least
eight institutes or centers bearing Beckman''s name as well as
educational programs for students in kindergarten through
college.

Beckman was not always the shrewdest of businessmen. Some
credit him with a big hand in the creation of Silicon Valley,
albeit in a rather indirect manner. I''ve touched on this in an
earlier column dealing with some of the early pioneers in the
history of the transistor and integrated circuit. Beckman funded
William Shockley when he set up his own company in
California. Shockley was not a great manager and soon a group
of his staff known as the "traitorous eight" went to Beckman to
try to get him to ease Shockley out in some manner. Beckman
was very loyal to Shockley and refused to remove him so the
eight "traitors" left to join Fairchild. Later, two of them, Robert
Noyce and Gordon Moore, left Fairchild to form Intel and
Silicon Valley was on its way.

All this due to the acidity of lemon juice! The article mentioned
above cited Beckman''s life as "a century of quality". His
marriage of 64 years to his beloved Mabel certainly stands in
contrast to the impermanence of too many unions today.
Beckman apparently was a pianist of some talent, paying for his
education by playing in dance orchestras and in movie houses.
(No sound in those days.) Today, Beckman, when asked what''s
most important to him now, answers, "Breathing." Me, too.

Allen F. Bortrum