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Justus von Liebig

von Liebig

Freiherr Justus von Liebig (May 12, 1803 in Darmstadt, Germany - April 18, 1873 in Munich, Germany) was a German chemist. He made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and worked on the organization of organic chemistry.

He was expelled from his Gymnasium for detonating an explosive device he had made at home from chemicals obtained from his father's business. He was apprenticed to an apothecary in Heppenheim.

Liebig studied at the University of Bonn, together with Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner. When Kastner moved to the University of Erlangen, Liebig accompanied him and received his doctorate there in 1822. He then received a grant from the Hessian government to study in Paris. Through the influence of Alexander von Humboldt he was able to work in the private laboratory of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac.

In 1824 at the age of 21, he became professor at the University of Giessen. He was a professor at the University of Munich from 1852 to 1873. He became Freiherr (baron) in 1845. Liebig improved organic analysis, and discovered that plants feed on the nitrogen (actually microbes do the conversions to nitrogen componds) and carbon dioxide in the air, as well as on minerals in the soil. One of his most famous accomplishments was the invention of nitrogen-based fertilizer. He was also one of the first chemists to organize a laboratory as we know it today. The vapor condensation device he invented for his research is still known as a "liebig condenser"

In 1865 he founded the Liebig Extract of Meat Company which produced beef extract, an innovation of his, as a cheap, nutricious alternative to real meat.

The University of Giessen today is officially named after him, "Justus-Liebig-Universitšt-Giessen".

Major Works

  • Organic Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture and Physiology (1840)
  • Organic Chemistry in its Application to Physiology and Pathology (1842)

See also

Last updated: 05-07-2005 06:24:56
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04