Alfred Werner: Founder of Coordination Chemistry by George B. Kauffman


By George B. Kauffman

A new release in the past, near1y all students who p1anned to develop into chemists have been required to take a path within the historical past in their topic, yet these days, such classes usually are not required, and in lots of schoo1s, are usually not even provided. it's argued that the topic of chemistry is increasing so rapid1y that scholars can hard1y grasp the cloth which fills the recent textual content books, to assert not anything of 1earning what chemists inspiration and did a century in the past. even supposing this standpoint has a few validity, it fails take into consideration the even more vital proven fact that one can't particularly comprehend or take pleasure in the current place of technology un1ess he is familiar with anything of the gradual and tortuous steps in which it deve10ped. His skill to he1p it circulate ahead might be significantly greater via an knowing of the contemplating the chemists who outfitted the theories which we use at the present time. it's been tru1y acknowledged, "He who is aware on1y his personal new release is still a1ways a chi1d. " the looks of a e-book which information the start of a good improvement in chemistry is accordingly an important occasion, and one that we welcome warmly. The occasions that are chronieled listed below are now a ways sufficient in the back of us to permit a elear evaluate in their importance, yet elose sufficient that there nonetheless stay a number of those that knew WERNER individually, and who've preserved intimate documents of his paintings. hence, Prof.

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An unsalaried university lecturer whose sole income is derived from Kollegiengelder - fees paid by the students who enroll in his courses (at that time ca. Sw. Fr. 5 per student per semesterhour). * This senten ce is apparently intended to placate WERNER'S parents. There is no evidence that he ever seriously considered any career but chemistry, which, as we shall see, was for hirn not only a fuIl-time job, but almost a way of life. His brother Adolf later acquired a pig-breeding farm at Tiefengraben in Mulhouse.

In attempting to justify the expenses of his intended trip, WERNER remarked that "Zürich is not large enough for one who must later teach science to young people. It is absolutely necessary that I go abroad for one semester in order to enlarge my scientific horizons and to get some idea of how our science is practiced elsewhere. 16, 1891, from the Hotel Pfauen where he now resided, WERNER submitted his recently completed Habilitationsschrift to the Hohe Schweizerische Schulrat and petitioned them for the venia docendi in chemistry at the Polytechnikum.

ABELJANZ'S analytical section was housed in reasona:bly adequate quarters. The other students worked in what they aptly nicknamed the "Catacombs" (Katakomben) - unfinished cellars and storage rooms for wood, so poorly illuminated that artificial gas lighting was required even at noon (Plate 1, page 65). Tbe unhealthy contrast of steam pipes overhead and cold cement floors below, along with the penetrating reek of pyridine (there was no ventilation to speak of) completed the dismal scene. A would-be satirist of the time in a 1900 Weihnachtskommers~' pamphlet announced "a new triumph in Goethe research", claiming that inspiration for the * These memistry student magazines, issued annually in eonneetion with the traditional Christmas party, although invariably loaded with sophomorie exaggeration, still provide a lively glimpse of the esprit de corps of WERNER'S students as well as graphie deseriptions of institute eonditions at the time.

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