5 December – 1820-1830: Liebig and Wöhler
Day 5 of the chemistry advent timeline features two German chemists: Liebig and Wöhler.
Liebig is well known to chemistry students thanks to his eponymous condenser. With Wöhler, he identified the first isomers, and he also made contributions to agricultural science. His condenser wasn’t his only glassware-related legacy; though the kaliapparat he invented is now seldom used, it features in the logo of the American Chemical Society.
There’s also a link between Liebig and yesterday’s graphic featuring Berzelius – Liebig was supposedly responsible for changing the superscripts in Berzelius’s chemical formulae to the subscripts we use today.
Wöhler proved that organic compounds can be synthesised in a lab as well as produced by living things. He and Liebig also pioneered laboratory-based education.
There’s more on Liebig and Wöhler’s friendship and work together from the Science History Institute.
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