Gilbert Lewis Dot Dot Dot…

Gilbert LewisOn this day back in 1857, the great Filipino artist Juan Luna was born. He was also involved in the Philippine Revolution and was even arrested for agitation. But the main thing of note about him is his painting. He had a distinct but compelling style. Happily, he was recognized in his own lifetime. But he died at only 42.

Comedian Johnny Carson was born in 1925. Everyone knows him, so I am just going to try to present to you a joke that Carson once told on the Tonight Show that no one but me thinks is funny. The Democratic National Convention was going on. Jerry Brown had run for president and he came in a distant third. But he was still an important presence at the convention. Carson said (more or less), “A reporter ask Brown if it bothered him that a lot people thought he was a new age hippy. And Brown responded, ‘Well, you give good karma out, you get good karma back.'” Okay, that’s a solid joke. But it died. Carson got nothing from the audience. So he ad libbed, “How about: he said it while meditating on ten pounds of raw liver?” I died. To this day, I think it is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. No one agrees with me. I guess you had to be there.

Other birthdays: the architect of the Ecole Militaire, Ange-Jacques Gabriel (1698); not the publisher of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” linguist John Russell Bartlett (1805); Minnie in Bride of Frankenstein, actor Una O’Connor (1880); linguist Zellig Harris (1909); cartoonist Bob Montana (1920); actor Frank Sutton (1923); the fine film director Philip Kaufman (77); the once good buy finally hack science fiction writer Michael Crichton (1942); film director Ang Lee (59); film director Sam Raimi (54); and songwriter “Weird Al” Yankovic (54).

H2O Dot DiagramThe day,however, belongs to the great chemist Gilbert Lewis who was born in 1875. He is known for discovering the covalent bond and for his theoretical work on electron pairs. What you probably know him for is one of the first thing you learn in high school chemistry: Lewis dot diagrams. It is a surprisingly simple but powerful concept. You can see how it works with a water molecule on the right. Each atom has 4 pair locations and when atoms bond, they share one electron a piece. He did far more than this and if you are interested in chemistry and thermodynamics, you should look into him.

Happy birthday Gilbert Lewis!

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