Marcellin Berthelot, French chemist

Marcellin Berthelot, French chemist

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Credit: GREGORY TOBIAS/CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Marcellin Pierre Eugene Berthelot (1827-1907), French chemist, using a magnifying glass in his laboratory. Berthelot pioneered organic synthesis. Organic chemistry had been concerned with compounds derived from living nature. From 1854, Berthelot used synthetic methods in a systematic way, and built up large molecules from simple starting components. The former idea of a 'vital force' was banished; organic chemistry became simply the chemistry of carbon compounds. He is also noted for his work on thermochemistry, physiological chemistry and on explosives. This 1927 engraving is by Carol Nonumaye.

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