Germany, History, 19th Century, History, 20th Century, Chemistry, Organic education, Chemistry, Organic instrumentation, Chemistry, Organic methods, Research history, and Universities history
In seeking to understand the rise of Justus Liebig's model for research and teaching, three interrelated and overlapping factors intrinsic to his specialty of organic chemistry have not been sufficiently brought into the explanatory field: the discovery of isomers, the novel practice of using "paper tools," and the "Kaliapparat" method of organic analysis. The existence of these three interacting factors, all of which emerged suddenly and essentially simultaneously around 1830, led to an explosive expansion in the new field of organic chemistry. Moreover, they made it a uniquely positioned context within which to create in Germany the practices that eventually were associated with all modern research universities. For comparative purposes, the spread of the new model to France, and more briefly, to the United States is also examined here. The eclectic approach used in this paper places greater emphasis on the contingencies of time, place, and discipline than many earlier studies of this problem have done; it is thus intended to provide a helpful complementary perspective.
Germany, History, 19th Century, Alkaloids chemical synthesis, Alkaloids history, Chemistry history, Chemistry methods, Chemistry, Organic history, Chemistry, Organic methods, and Research Design
Liebig's 1831 paper that describes a new apparatus for the analysis of organic compounds and the results of several analyses using the apparatus is a justly famous contribution to the evolution of modern chemistry. In this paper, I look at the three separate components of Liebig's combustion apparatus that collect the water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen released by the combustion of six alkaloids. Gravimetric data included in the paper reveal that very accurate results could be obtained for water by absorption in a calcium chloride tube, and even better results for carbon dioxide resulted from use of the Kaliapparat. Volumetric measurement of nitrogen gave very poor results despite Liebig's efforts to improve it. Inaccuracies in nitrogen measurement made consistent construction of accurate molecular formulae for nitrogenous substances impossible, and only fortuitous decisions intended to bring molecular formulae into agreement with measured combining weights gave formulae in agreement with modern ones, as in the case for quinine.
PHYSICAL organic chemistry, ORGANIC chemistry, CHEMICAL reactions, PHYSICAL & theoretical chemistry, and HISTORY of chemistry
The emergence of physical organic chemistry, which focuses on the mechanisms and structures of organic reactions and molecules using the tools of physical chemistry, was a major development in twentieth-century chemistry. It first flourished in the interwar period, in the UK and then in the US. Germany, by contrast, did not embrace the field until almost a half century later. The great success of classical organic chemistry, especially in synthesis, encouraged indifference to the new field among German chemists, as did their inductivist research philosophy, as enunciated by Walter Hückel’s ground-breaking textbook (1931). This author also resisted new concepts and representations, especially those of the American theoretician, Linus Pauling. The arrival of the Nazi regime reinforced such resistance. Postwar conditions initiated a reaction against this conservative, nationalistic attitude, especially in the American Occupation Zone. Exposure to American textbooks and visiting lecturers influenced attitudes of younger chemists. The accompanying shift towards a more explanatory, less hierarchical mode of pedagogy was consonant with larger social and political developments. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
CHARITIES, CHEMOTHERAPY (Cancer), and ORGANIC chemistry
The Hickrill Chemical Research Foundation, located north of New York City on the estate of its patrons, Sylvan and Ruth Alice Norman Weil, had a short (1948–59) but productive life. Ruth Alice Weil received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1947, directed by William von Eggers Doering of Columbia University. She intended that Hickrill contribute to cancer chemotherapy while providing resources for Doering's more speculative research. Ultimately, Doering's commitment to theoretical organic chemistry set Hickrill's research agenda. Lawrence Knox, an African American with a Harvard Ph.D., supervised the laboratory's daily activities. Hickrill's two dozen postdoctoral fellows produced path-breaking results in Hückel aromatic theory and reactive intermediate chemistry, fostering the postwar emphasis on “basic science.” This essay places the Laboratory's successes in the wider context of postwar politics and scientific priorities. Private philanthropic support of basic science arose because it received little pre-World War II government support. In the immediate postwar period, modest organisations like Hickrill still met a need, but the increasing governmental defence- and non-defence-related support for science eventually rendered them unnecessary. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]