Ernest Solvay was born 180 years ago, today, on 16 April 1838. The hyperactive founder of Solvay is well known as an inventor, entrepreneur, patron of sciences and promoter of social progress, but here are a few other things about him you probably didn’t know…
1. He hadn’t planned to found Solvay
Ernest Solvay wanted to sell his chemical process, but his original patent was invalidated, so he had to create his own company to exploit it.
2. He was fired by his own uncle
His first job was at a gasworks owned by his uncle, but he spent most of his time working on personal projects. His uncle eventually fired him, giving him free time to launch Solvay & cie.
3. He opposed the concept of inheritance
With political views combining liberalism and socialism, he declared that “society is obligated to strive for social justice or else it will die”, and supported total equality for all.
4. He supported Marie Curie’s research
A major patron of sciences, he was curious about radioactivity, and financed a series of Marie Curie’s experiments. Check this out!
5. The highest refuge in the Alps bears his name
An enthusiastic mountain-climber, he financed the construction of the Solvay refuge on the Matterhorn in Switzerland.