Justus von Liebig
|Justus von Liebig|
|Justus von Liebig-chemist|
Justus von Liebig-chemist
|Born||12 May 1803|
Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse
|Died||April 18 1873 (aged 69)|
Munich, German Empire
|Residence||Grand Duchy of Hesse, then German Empire|
|Nationality||Hessian, then German|
|Institutions||University of Giessen |
University of Munich
|Alma mater||University of Bonn |
University of Erlangen
|Doctoral advisor||Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner|
|Doctoral students||Carl Schmidt,|
Carl von Voit,
Hermann von Fehling,
Hermann Franz Moritz Kopp,
August von Hofmann,
Wilhelm Henneberg ,
Law of the Minimum
Justus von Liebig (May 12, 1803 – April 18, 1873) was a German chemist who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and worked on the organization of organic chemistry. As a professor, he devised the modern laboratory-oriented teaching method, and for such innovations, he is regarded as one of the greatest chemistry teachers of all time. He is known as the "father of the fertilizer industry" for his discovery of nitrogen as an essential plant nutrient, and his formulation of the Law of the Minimum which described the effect of individual nutrients on crops. He also developed a manufacturing process for beef extract, and founded a company, Liebig Extract of Meat Company, that later trademarked the Oxo brand beef bouillon cube.
Liebig was born in Darmstadt into a middle class family. From childhood he was fascinated by chemistry and even was expelled from his grammar school for detonating an explosive device he had made at home from chemicals obtained from his father's drysaltery business. [This tale is probably apocryphal--there is no historical evidence that it occurred.] He was apprenticed to the apothecary Gottfried Pirsch (1792-1870) in Heppenheim.
Liebig attended the University of Bonn, studying under Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner, a business associate of his father. When Kastner moved to the University of Erlangen, Liebig followed him and later took his doctorate from Erlangen. Liebig did not receive the doctorate until well after he had left Erlangen, and the circumstances are clouded by a possible scandal [see Munday (1990)]. Also at Erlangen, Liebig fell in love with the poet August Graf von Platen (1796-1835) who wrote several sonnets dedicated to Liebig. He left Erlangen in March 1822, in part because of his involvement with the radical Korps Rhenania (a nationalist student organization) but also because of his hopes for more advanced chemical studies.
In autumn 1822 Liebig went to study in Paris on a grant obtained for him by Kastner from the Hessian government. He worked in the private laboratory of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, and was also befriended by Alexander von Humboldt and Georges Cuvier (1769-1832).
After leaving Paris, Liebig returned to Darmstadt and married Henriette Moldenhauer, the daughter of a state official. This ended Liebig's relationship with Platen.
In 1824 at the age of 21 and with Humboldt's recommendation, Liebig became a professor at the University of Giessen. He established the world's first major school of chemistry there. He received an appointment from the King of Bavaria to the University of Munich in 1852, where he remained until his death in 1873 in Munich. He became Freiherr (baron) in 1845.
He founded and edited from 1832 the journal Annalen der Chemie, which became the leading German-language journal of Chemistry. The volumes from his lifetime are often referenced just as Liebigs Annalen; and following his death the title was officially changed to Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie.
Research and development
Liebig improved organic analysis with the Kaliapparat-- a five-bulb device that used a potassium hydroxide solution to remove the organic combustion product carbon dioxide. He downplayed the role of humus in plant nutrition and discovered that plants feed on nitrogen compounds and carbon dioxide derived from the air, as well as on minerals in the soil. One of his most recognized and far-reaching accomplishments was the invention of nitrogen-based fertilizer. Liebig believed that nitrogen must be supplied to plant roots in the form of ammonia. Though a practical and commercial failure, his invention of fertilizer recognized the possibility of substituting chemical fertilizers for natural (animal dung, etc.) ones. He also formulated the Law of the Minimum, stating that a plant's development is limited by the one essential mineral that is in the relatively shortest supply, visualized as "Liebig's barrel". This concept is a qualitative version of the principles used to determine the application of fertilizer in modern agriculture.
He was also one of the first chemists to organize a laboratory as we know it today. His novel method of organic analysis made it possible for him to direct the analytical work of many graduate students. The vapor condensation device he popularized for his research is still known as a Liebig condenser, although it was in common use long before Liebig's research began. Liebig's students were from many of the German states as well as Britain and the United States, and they helped create an international reputation for their Doktorvater.
Liebig's work on applying chemistry to plant and animal physiology was especially influential. At a time when many chemists such as Jöns Jakob Berzelius insisted on a hard and fast separation between the organic and inorganic, Liebig argued that "...the production of all organic substances no longer belongs just to the organism. It must be viewed as not only probable but as certain that we shall produce them in our laboratories. Sugar, salicin [aspirin], and morphine will be artificially produced." [Liebig and Woehler (1838)]
Liebig's arguments against any chemical distinction between living (physiological) and dead chemical processes proved a great inspiration to several of his students and others who were interested in materialism. Though Liebig distanced himself from the direct political implications of materialism, he tacitly supported the work of Karl Vogt (1817-1895), Jacob Moleschott (1822-1893), and Ludwig Buechner (1824-1899).
Liebig played a more direct role in reforming politics in the German states through his promotion of science-based agriculture and the publication of John Stuart Mill's Logic. Through Liebig's close friendship with the Vieweg family publishing house, he arranged for his former student Jacob Schiel (1813-1889) to translate Mill's important work for German publication. Liebig liked Mill's Logic in part because it promoted science as a means to social and political progress, but also because Mill featured several examples of Liebig's research as an ideal for the scientific method. Liebig is also credited with the notion that "searing meat seals in the juices." This idea, still widely believed, is not true.
Working with Belgian engineer George Giebert, Liebig devised an efficient method of producing beef extract from carcasses. In 1865, they founded the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, marketing the extract as a cheap, nutritious alternative to real meat. Some years after Liebig's death, in 1899, the product was trademarked "Oxo".
- Organic Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture and Physiology (1840)
- Organic Chemistry in its Application to Physiology and Pathology (1842)
- Familiar Letters on Chemistry (1843)
- William H. Brock. Justus von Liebig: The Chemical Gatekeeper. Cambridge University Press, 2002, page 21
- McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking (Revised Edition). Scribner. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. Page 161, "The Searing Question".
- Germany #695, Scott catalogue
- William H. Brock, Justus von Liebig: The Chemical Gatekeeper (Cambridge University Press, 1997). See also William H. Brock.
- Rosenfeld, Louis (2003), "Justus Liebig and animal chemistry.", Clin. Chem. (published 2003 Oct), 49 (10), pp. 1696–707, PMID:14500604 Check date values in:
- Kirschke, Martin (2003), "Liebig, his university professor Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner (1783-1857) and his problematic relation with romantic natural philosophy.", Ambix (published 2003 Mar), 50 (1), pp. 3–24, PMID:12921103 Check date values in:
- Buttner, J (2000), "Justus von Liebig and his influence on clinical chemistry.", Ambix (published 2000 Jul), 47 (2), pp. 96–117, PMID:11640225 Check date values in:
- Thomas, U (1988), "Philipp Lorenz Geiger and Justus Liebig.", Ambix (published 1988), 35 (2), pp. 77–90, PMID:11621581 Check date values in:
- Guggenheim, K Y (1985), "Johannes Müller and Justus Liebig on nutrition.", Korot (published 1985), 8 (11–12), pp. 66–76, PMID:11614053 Check date values in:
- Sonntag, O (1977), "Religion and science in the thought of Liebig.", Ambix (published 1977 Nov), 24 (3), pp. 159–69, PMID:11610495 Check date values in:
- Glas, E (1976), "The Liebig-Mulder controversy. On the methodology of physiological chemistry.", Janus; revue internationale de l'histoire des sciences, de la médecine, de la pharmacie, et de la technique (published 1976), 63 (1-2–3), pp. 27–46, PMID:11610199 Check date values in:
- Sonntag, O (1974), "Liebig on Francis Bacon and the utility of science.", Annals of science (published 1974 Sep), 31 (5), pp. 373–86, PMID:11615416 Check date values in:
- Kempler, K (1973), "[Justus Liebig]", Orvosi hetilap (published 1973 Jun 3), 114 (22), pp. 1312–7, PMID:4576434 Check date values in:
- Halmai, J (1963), "Justus Liebig", Orvosi hetilap (published 1963 Aug 11), 104, pp. 1523–4, PMID:13952197 Check date values in:
- Berghoff, E (1954), "Justus von Liebig, founder of physiological chemistry.", Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. (published 1954 Jun 11), 66 (23), pp. 401–2, PMID:13187963 Check date values in:
- Schmidt, F (1953), "To Justus von Liebig on his 150th birthday, 12 May 1953", Pharmazie (published 1953 May), 8 (5), pp. 445–6, PMID:13088290 Check date values in:
- Schneider, W (1953), "Justus von Liebig and the Archiv der Pharmazie; in memory of Liebig's birthday, 12 May 1803", Archiv der Pharmazie und Berichte der Deutschen Pharmazeutischen Gesellschaft (published 1953), 286 (4), pp. 165–72, PMID:13081110 Check date values in:
- G. F. Knapp (1903). "Zur Hundertsten Wiederkehr: Justus von Liebig nach dem Leben gezeichnet". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 36 (2): 1315 &ndash, 1330. doi:10.1002/cber.19030360202.
- Georg Freiherr von Liebig (1890). "Nekrolog: Justus von Liebig. Eigenhändige biographische Aufzeichnungen". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 23 (3): 817 &ndash, 828. doi:10.1002/cber.18900230391.
- "Zur Erinnerung an Justus von Liebig". Journal für Praktische Chemie. 8 (1): 428 &ndash, 458. 1873. doi:10.1002/prac.18740080148.
- Familiar Letters on Chemistry at librivox.org
jointly with Jacques Charles François Sturm
|NAME||Liebig, Justus von|
|DATE OF BIRTH||12 May 1803|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Darmstadt, Germany|
|DATE OF DEATH||18 April 1873|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Munich, Germany|
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