Monday, July 1, 2013
Lawrence J. Henderson
Henderson's initial research interest upon returning to America was in understanding buffer systems and how the human body maintains its pH balance. In the blood carbon dioxide from cellular respiration combines with water to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid (H2CO3) exists in the blood primarily in the form of bicarbonate (HCO3-). Bicarbonate and the proteins of the blood act as buffers that maintain the body's pH. When excess acid or base is produced bicarbonate acts to maintain the body's pH at a slightly basic pH (about 7.35). From his research on buffers Henderson developed an equation that can be used to calculate the pH of a buffer system. The Henderson/Hasselbalch equation equates the pH to the pKa of the acid in the buffer plus the log of the concentration of the acid's anion divided by the concentration of the associated acid (pH = pKa + log([A-]/[HA]).
Henderson's later research career dealt with more philosophical issues in science. He published two books, The Fitness of the Environment and The Order of Nature, devoted to the discussion of global problems of the fitness of organisms in their environments. In The Order of Nature he concluded that "the whole evolutionary process, both cosmic and organic, is one, and the biologist may rightly regard the universe, in its essence as biocentric."
Henderson died on February 10, 1942 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Cannon, Walter M.; "Biographical Memoir of Lawerence Joseph Henderson 1878-1943"; National Academy Press; 1943
Mayer, Jean; "Lawrence J. Henderson - A Biographical Sketch"; The Journal of Nutrition (1968)94:3-5
Smith, Charles H.; "Henderson, Lawrence Joseph (United States 1878-1942)"; retrieved from: http: wku/people.wku.edu/charles.smith
Lawerence Joseph Henderson Wikipedia Entry