Emmett W. Chappelle
Born October 24, 1925
Lyophilized Reaction Mixtures
Patent #: 3,423,290
Biochemist Emmett Chappelle discovered that a specific combination of
chemicals caused all living organisms to emit light. Chappelle's discovery,
known as bioluminescence, facilitated important findings within the fields
of biology and chemistry.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Chappelle studied at the University of Washington, where he earned an M.A. in biology. In 1963, while working for NASA, Chappelle began exploring the qualities of light given off by different life forms. In charge of developing instruments used to scrape soil from Mars on NASA’s Viking probe, Chappelle realized how chemicals gave off a measurable light when mixed with materials containing living cells. He applied this to detect bacteria in urine, blood, spinal fluids, drinking water, and foods.