The Info List - Friedrich Wöhler

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Friedrich Wöhler
Friedrich Wöhler
(German: [ˈvøːlɐ]; 31 July 1800 – 23 September 1882) was a German chemist, best known for his synthesis of urea, but also the first to isolate several chemical elements.


1 Biography 2 Contributions to chemistry 3 Major works, discoveries and research 4 Final days and legacy 5 Further works 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Biography[edit] He was born in Eschersheim, which belonged to Hanau
at the time but is nowadays a district of Frankfurt am Main. In 1823 Wöhler finished his study of medicine in Heidelberg
at the laboratory of Leopold Gmelin, who arranged for him to work under Jöns Jakob Berzelius
Jöns Jakob Berzelius
in Stockholm, Sweden. He taught chemistry from 1826 to 1831 at the Polytechnic School in Berlin until 1839 when he was stationed at the Polytechnic School at Kassel. Afterwards, he became Ordinary Professor of Chemistry in the University of Göttingen, where he remained until his death in 1882. In 1834, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Contributions to chemistry[edit] Wöhler is regarded as a pioneer in organic chemistry as a result of his (accidentally) synthesizing urea from ammonium cyanate in the Wöhler synthesis in 1828.[2] This discovery has become celebrated as a refutation of vitalism, the hypothesis that living things are alive because of some special "vital force". However, contemporary accounts do not support that notion. This Wöhler Myth, as historian of science Peter J. Ramberg called it, originated from a popular history of chemistry published in 1931, which, "ignoring all pretense of historical accuracy, turned Wöhler into a crusader who made attempt after attempt to synthesize a natural product that would refute vitalism and lift the veil of ignorance, until 'one afternoon the miracle happened'".[3][4] Nevertheless, it was the beginning of the end of one popular vitalist hypothesis, that of Jöns Jakob Berzelius, that "organic" compounds could be made only by living things. Major works, discoveries and research[edit] Wöhler was also known for being a co-discoverer of beryllium, silicon and silicon nitride,[5] as well as the synthesis of calcium carbide, among others. In 1834, Wöhler and Justus Liebig
Justus Liebig
published an investigation of the oil of bitter almonds. They proved by their experiments that a group of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms can behave like an element, take the place of an element, and be exchanged for elements in chemical compounds. Thus the foundation was laid of the doctrine of compound radicals, a doctrine which had a profound influence on the development of chemistry. Since the discovery of potassium by Humphry Davy, it had been assumed that alumina, the basis of clay, contained a metal in combination with oxygen. Davy, Ørsted, and Berzelius
attempted the extraction of this metal, but failed. Wöhler then worked on the same subject, and discovered the metal aluminium in 1827. To him also is due the isolation of the elements yttrium, beryllium, and titanium, the observation that "silicium" (silicon) can be obtained in crystals, and that some meteoric stones contain organic matter. He analyzed meteorites, and for many years wrote the digest on the literature of meteorites in the Jahresberichte über die Fortschritte der Chemie; he possessed the best private collection of meteoric stones and irons existing. Wöhler and Sainte Claire Deville discovered the crystalline form of boron, and Wöhler and Heinrich Buff discovered silane in 1856. Wöhler also prepared urea, a constituent of urine, from ammonium cyanate in the laboratory without the help of a living cell. Final days and legacy[edit] Wöhler's discoveries had great influence on the theory of chemistry. The journals of every year from 1820 to 1881 contain contributions from him. In the Scientific American
Scientific American
supplement for 1882, it was remarked that "for two or three of his researches he deserves the highest honor a scientific man can obtain, but the sum of his work is absolutely overwhelming. Had he never lived, the aspect of chemistry would be very different from that it is now".[6] Wöhler had several students who became notable chemists. Among them were Georg Ludwig Carius, Heinrich Limpricht, Rudolph Fittig, Adolph Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe, Albert Niemann, and Vojtěch Šafařík. Further works[edit] Further works from Wöhler:

Lehrbuch der Chemie, Dresden, 1825, 4 vols. Grundriss der Anorganischen Chemie, Berlin, 1830 Grundriss der Chemie, Berlin, 1837–1858 Vol.1&2 Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf Grundriss der Organischen Chemie, Berlin, 1840 Praktische Übungen in der Chemischen Analyse, Berlin, 1854

See also[edit]

Justus von Liebig Silver cyanate Silver fulminate Isomerism Hilaire Marin Rouelle Stanley Miller


^ Goddard, Nicholas (2004). "Voelcker, (John Christopher) Augustus (1822–1884)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
(online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28345.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) The first edition of this text is available at Wikisource:  "Voelcker, John Christopher Augustus". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.  ^ Wöhler, Friedrich (1828). "Ueber künstliche Bildung des Harnstoffs". Annalen der Physik und Chemie. 88 (2): 253–256. Bibcode:1828AnP....88..253W. doi:10.1002/andp.18280880206.  — Available in English at: "Chem Team".  ^ Cheng 2005, p. 1 cites Ramberg 2000, pp. 170–195. ^ "Ramberg (2000), following Rocke (1993), pp. 239–241, traced back the origin to H. Kopp’s Geschichte der Chemie, Vol. 1 (1843), p. 442; vol. 4 (1847), p. 244. The myth was unmasked by McKie in 1944, followed by a series of papers quoted by Ramberg" (Schummer 2003, p. 718). ^ Deville, H.; Wohler, F. (1857). "Erstmalige Erwähnung von Si3N4". Liebigs Ann. Chem. 104: 256.  ^ Scientific American
Scientific American
Supplement No. 362, 9 Dec 1882. Fullbooks.com. Retrieved on 28 May 2014.


Cheng, Anthony M. (Spring 2005). "The Real Death of Vitalism: Implications of the Wöhler Myth". Penn Bioethics Journal. 1 (1).  Ramberg, Peter J. (2000). "The Death of Vitalism
and the Birth of Organic Chemistry". Ambix. 47 (3): 170–195. doi:10.1179/000269800790987401.  Schummer, Joachim (2003). "The notion of nature in chemistry" (PDF). Studies in History and Philosophy of Science. 34: 705–736. doi:10.1016/s0039-3681(03)00050-5. 

Further reading[edit]

Uray, Johannes (2009). "Mythos Harnstoffsynthese". Nachrichten aus der Chemie. 57: 943–944. doi:10.1002/nadc.200966159.  Johannes Uray: Die Wöhlersche Harnstoffsynthese und das wissenschaftliche Weltbild. Graz, Leykam, 2009. Robin Keen: The Life and Work of Friedrich Wöhler. Bautz 2005.

Hoppe, Brigitte (2007). "Review of The life and work of Friedrich Wohler (1800–1882) by Robin Keen, edited by Johannes Buttner". Isis. 98 (1): 195–196. doi:10.1086/519116. 

Johannes Valentin: Friedrich Wöhler. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft Stuttgart ("Grosse Naturforscher" 7) 1949. Georg Schwedt: Der Chemiker Friedrich Wöhler. Hischymia 2000. Brooke, John H. (1968). "Wöhler's Urea
and its Vital Force – a verdict from the Chemists". Ambix. 15: 84–114. doi:10.1179/000269868791519757.  Kauffman, George B.; Chooljian, Steven H. (2001). "Friedrich Wöhler (1800–1882), on the Bicentennial of His Birth". The Chemical Educator. 6 (2): 121–133. doi:10.1007/s00897010444a.  McKie, Douglas (1944). "Wöhler's syntethic Urea
and the rejection of Vitalism: a chemical Legend". Nature. 153: 608–610. Bibcode:1944Natur.153..608M. doi:10.1038/153608a0.  Ramberg, Peter J. (2000). "The Death of Vitalism
and the Birth of organic Chemistry. Wöhler's Urea
Synthesis and the disciplinary Identity of organic Chemistry". Ambix. 47: 170–215. doi:10.1179/000269800790987401.  Uray, Johannes (2010). "Die Wöhlersche Harnstoffsynhtese und das Wissenschaftliche Weltbild – Analyse eines Mythos". Mensch, Wissenschaft, Magie. 27: 121–152. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Friedrich Wöhler.

has original works written by or about: Friedrich Wöhler

 Joy, Charles A. (August 1880). "Biographical Sketch of Frederick Wöhler". Popular Science Monthly. 17.   "Wöhler, Friedrich". Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). 1911.   "Wöhler, Friedrich". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.   Dittmar, William (1888). "Wöhler, Friedrich". Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (9th ed.).   "Wöhler, Friedrich". The American Cyclopædia. 1879.  Works by or about Friedrich Wöhler
Friedrich Wöhler
at Internet Archive

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 69032268 LCCN: n82250280 ISNI: 0000 0001 0858 3472 GND: 118634488 SELIBR: 336393 SUDOC: 034067906 BNF: cb12486173q (data) BIBSYS: 90187764 MGP: 141834 NLA: 36002562 NKC: nlk20000079