Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin

Courtesy of Google

Courtesy of Google

Google is celebrating what would have been the 180th birthday of chemist Sir William Henry Perkin who discovered the first synthetic dye.

So who was this brilliant man who turned the world from black and white to colour overnight? Born on March 12, 1838, in London, Perkin was an inquisitive child but his ardour for chemistry gained momentum after he stumbled upon a deteriorating laboratory at his late grandfather's home. Perkin could not have chosen a better time or place for his discovery.

While experimenting, Perkin discovered that aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture which, when extracted with alcohol, produced a substance with an intense purple colour.

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Perkin was a painting and art enthusiast and was delighted with this finding.

The discovery was significant as until then fabrics had to be coloured with expensive natural substances that could never be used in large quantities.

The Doodle, made by UK-based illustrator Sonny Ross, shows off the magnificent purple colour on a series of people wearing it.

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This was the flawless time for Perkin to have made his discovery and he went about getting his father to invest in his discovery, which caught on in Britain's booming textile industry right away. Perkin was trying to synthesize quinine for the treatment of malaria, but ended up becoming successful in the field of dyes after the discovery of purple mauveine.

This was the first aniline or synthetic dye that was ever discovered - and he filed a patent in 1856. "Following his discovery, he focused on the patenting, manufacturing, and commercialization of this purple dye, which he named mauveine", Google wrote.

All of his three sons also went on to become chemists, following in their father's famous footsteps. He died at the age of 69 due to pneumonia and other complications resulting from a burst appendix.

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