Google Doodle celebrates 180th birth anniversary of Sir William Henry Perkin

Who was Sir William Henry Perkin? Meet the scientist behind today's Google doodle

GOOGLE / GETTY SIR WILLIAM HENRY PERKIN: Google Doodle are celebrating the British chemist Who was Sir William Henry Perkin?

How was the dye discovered?

He entered the Royal College of Chemistry, now part of Imperial College London, at the surprisingly young age of 15 in 1853. According to Google's blog post, an 18-year-old laboratory assistant, Perkins was cleaning out a beaker following a failed experiment when he noticed that the constituents of the beaker left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol.

Perkin was trying to find a substitute for quinine, the only viable medical treatment for malaria in 1856, as demand was exceeding supply. Instead, what resulted from the experiment was a dark substance. He figured that the solution could be used to colour fabric.

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Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later became commonly known as mauve (from the French for the plant used to make the color violet).

The colour purple was a mark of aristocracy and its long-time association with royalty, and so Perkin managed to garner commercial success with the discovery of the rich purple colour. After the discovery, he focused on patenting, manufacturing, and the commercialization of this purple dye. Besides, the fading colour was a problem.

Perkin's "strong and inexpensively produced mauveine" made the colour more accessible, and therefore more popular, and even Queen Victoria work a mauveine dress to an event in 1862. In 1906, on the 50th anniversary of his discovery, he was knighted and awarded the first Perkin Medal.

Born on 12 March 1838, William Henry Perkin's discovery of "mauveine", the first synthetic dye, was found at the time when the textile industry was at a high. He died on July 14, 1907.


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