In this weekly feature at some of the exciting research being done at Ohio State that has the potential to have a major impact on our world. Of course cutting edge research that makes a big impact is nothing new for Ohio State; Buckeyes have been making world changing discoveries pretty much ever since the university was founded. This long history of cutting edge research has helped lead to Ohio State being ranked as one of the top research universities in the world and cemented a reputation that continues to attract top level faculty and students who are making new discoveries today. Thus it is only fitting that a series dedicated to looking at the exciting research being done at OSU take a moment to look back at some of the major discoveries in the past that helped the university gain its reputation. OSU made this task of looking back easy as the main university webpage features an excellent timeline of some of the major discoveries made by OSU researchers and alumni over the years.
I knew about some of the discoveries featured on the OSU list but there were also some surprises. Refrigerators first began to appear in American homes in 1913 and while these early units revolutionized the home storage of food, they had serious drawbacks compared to current models. These early refrigerators used either sulfur dioxide or methyl formate as the refrigeration medium; unfortunately both of these chemicals were extremely hazardous and could damage the eyes, skin, and even cause death if inhaled or ingested. The invention of Freon in the 1920s revolutionized the home refrigerator as it provided a safe, non-toxic refrigeration medium. OSU chemistry professor A.L. Henne performed studies on Freon which helped lead to its worldwide adoption in refrigerators and air conditioners.