Hole is open. Blue flame. Hole is closed. Orange flame. Hole is closed, then opened quickly. Orange flame shoots up into the air!
That’s right, folks. Robert Bunsen, after which the ubiquitous Bunsen burner is named, was born 200 years ago on this day. While he didn’t invent the burner, he made improvements to it and managed to take credit. He’d probably do quite well for himself these days.
In seriousness, though, Bunsen was a good scientist. He worked in the best field (chemistry) and developed spectroscopy to a point where he could discover new elements through their characteristic emission spectra. He also focused on fundamental research such as accurately determining the atomic mass of different elements, along with their properties. The theories he put into practice are still widespread almost two centuries later.
Anyway, there’s plenty more information out there about Bunsen if you want to go find it. He’s an interesting fellow: for example, he nearly poisoned himself to death with arsenic, and a laboratory explosion damaged his eye. Despite his colourful character and research history, though, he’ll live on mainly through the Bunsen burner. Almost everyone has a story of a school laboratory experiment going awry, often involving fire or explosions; what’s yours?