William Prout, physicist and chemist whose discovery led Ernest Rutherford to name the proton

William Prout

January 15, 1785, in Horton (England) – April 9, 1850, in London (England)

His professional life was devoted to physics in London, but personally he focused on chemical research.

He carried out numerous analyzes of secretions of living organisms, which he considered to be produced by the breakdown of body tissues. This led him to discover, in 1823, that gastric juices contain hydrochloric acid and that these can be separated by distillation and, in 1827, to propose the classification of food substances in carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Hipótesis de Prout

However, Prout is best remembered for his research in physical chemistry. In 1815, taking as a reference the tables of atomic weights of his time, he postulated the hypothesis: "The atomic weight of every element is an integer multiple of the weight of hydrogen, so the hydrogen atom is the only really fundamental particle and that the atoms of other chemical elements are made up of groups of several hydrogen atoms”.

Later it was not corroborated, although it was a sufficiently fundamental approximation to the structure of the atom for the prestigious Ernest Rutherford, in 1920, to choose the name of the newly discovered "proton" for, among other reasons, to recognize the merit of Prout.

Likewise, Prout contributed to the improvement of the barometer and the Royal Society of London adopted his design as a national standard.

Throughout his life, he wrote various publications both related to medicine and chemistry, and in one of them, the concept of "convection" was coined for the first time to describe a type of energy transmission.

As a curiosity, the Prout is also a unit of energy (now obsolete) whose value is 2.9638 x 10-14 J, this is equal to one twelfth of the deuteron binding energy.

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