Polythene (14.1) was †rst made in 1898 by the German chemist Hans von Pechmann, who heated CH2N2, diazomethane, obtaining a white, waxy solid. It was not until Monday, 27 March 1933, that the material was obtained again-and, again, accidentally. This time, two chemists working for ICI, Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett, had reacted ethene with benzaldehyde, at 2,000 times atmospheric pressure and 180°C. They were hoping to make ethyl phenyl ketone, CH3CH2COC6H5, by inserting ethene into the C-H bond of the aldehyde group; again, they made a white waxy solid. The synthesis was hard to reproduce, until they realised that traces of oxygen were catalysing the polymerisation.