Feb 08. Google on Friday raised a cup in honour of German analytical
chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who made some eye-opening discoveries many
of which are still integral part of our lives 200 years later.
create a buzz around Runge, whose place in history resulted in large part from
an accident followed by a chance encounter, the search engine dedicated an
animated doodle on his 225th birthday.
Born to a
Lutheran pastor family in Hamburg, Germany, on this day in 1795, Runge
expressed interest in chemistry from an early age and began conducting
experiments as a teenager.
identified the pupil-dilating effects of belladonna when he accidentally
splashed a drop of the toxic perennial, also known as deadly nightshade, into
is not pupil dilation, rather a stimulating discovery by Runge in 1819 that has
made him famous.
demonstrated his belladonna discovery to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, impressed
by the 25-year-old chemist, Goethe had handed Runge a bag of rare coffee beans
and suggested he analyse their chemical makeup.
thereafter, Runge isolated the active ingredient we know today as caffeine.
to Runge, without whom the pain of forgoing one’s morning cup of coffee might
never have had a scientific explanation,” the Google blogpost said.
earning his doctorate from the University of Berlin, Runge went on to teach at
the University of Breslau until 1831 when he left academia to take a position
at a chemical company.
time, he invented the first coal tar dye and a related process for dyeing
contributions to the world also include: being one of the first scientists to
isolate quinine (a drug used to treat malaria), considered an originator of
paper chromatography (an early technique for separating chemical substances),
and even devising a method for extracting sugar from beet juice.
contributions to chemistry, Runge died in poverty in 1867 at the age of 73.
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