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When he started fiddling with chemicals in his home in March 1856, William Henry Perkin had no idea what was about to happen.
He was an 18-year-old student at London's Royal College of Chemistry, eager to impress his teacher. His homework assignment was to run experiments at home during the Easter break.
Perkin was tasked with finding a cheap way to produce quinine, a substance used to treat malaria, which had to be extracted from the bark of exotic trees and was thus expensive.
The young man thought he could make it himself in his simple home lab in London. So he started mixing ingredients.