Milestones: Mar. 25, 1985

DIED. Cornelis Bernardus van Niel, 87, pioneering Dutch-born microbiologist who in the 1930s formulated the first correct chemical theory of photosynthesis, the all important process by which green plants convert water, carbon dioxide and light energy into carbohydrates and oxygen; in Carmel, Calif. At Stanford University, Van Niel worked with bacteria, some of which also perform a kind of photosynthesis, to derive his own general equation; in the 1940s experiments using isotopes of oxygen with different atomic weights traced the course of the chemical reactions and proved he was correct about green plants as well.

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