from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Baekeland, Leo Hendrik 1863-1944. Belgian-born American chemist who developed the first plastic to harden permanently after heating.


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  • SAVAGE GRACE/U.S.A. (Director: Tom Kalin, Screenwriter: Howard A. Rodman) — The true story of the beautiful and charismatic Barbara Daly, who married above her class to Brooks Baekeland, heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune.

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  • First, as Baekeland realized, science was no longer limited to trying to make ersatz silk or amber, but could improve on the products of nature.

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  • In fact, shellac (which is derived from the shells of rare Asian beetles) was what Baekeland had set out to duplicate, not for its decorative uses but as electrical insulation.

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  • However the subject matter, particularly towards the end of this story - based on the real-life tragedy of the Baekeland family - will leave many squirming in their seats.

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  • Leo Baekeland perfected (1893) a photographic paper (Velox) sufficiently sensitive to be printed by artificial light.


  • Baekeland next entered the field of electrochemistry and he equipped his private laboratory on the grounds of his home in Yonkers,

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  • In 1889, when he was 26, he traveled to New York to continue his study of chemistry; Professor Charles F. Chandler of [[Columbia University]] then persuaded Baekeland to stay in the [[United States of America | United States]]

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  • When friends asked Baekeland how he entered the field of synthetic resins, he answered that he had chosen it deliberately, looking for a way to make money.

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • Baekeland began to investigate the reactions of phenol and formaldehyde, and first produced a soluble phenol-formaldehyde shellac called "Novolak," which never became a market success.

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • Baekeland was trying to mimic shellac, a natural polymer secreted by the Asian scale beetle and used at the time to coat electrical wires.

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