Friedrich Wohler

Friedrich Wohler

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Caption: Friedrich Wohler (1800-1882), the German chemist. Wohler discovered the cyanates, and in 1928 he showed that ammonium cyanate when heated gave urea. Now urea is a typical animal product, so this reaction could be interpreted as marking the end of the idea of a 'vital force' essential for the chemistry of life. In fact Wohler's cyanate was made by a process which was not wholly inorganic, nevertheless his work marked the end of 'vitalism' in the minds of many chemists. Wohler collaborated with Liebig on an important study of 'oil of bitter almonds' (benzaldehyde). He was also the first to isolate aluminium & beryllium, crystalline boron & silicon, and calcium carbide.

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Keywords: chemist, friedrich, portraits, surname w, wohler

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