Technology

Google Doodle raises a cup to German chemist Runge

Punjab News Express | February 08, 2019 12:37 PM

NEW DELHI:  Google on Friday raised a cup in honour of German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who made some eye-opening discoveries many of which are still integral part of our lives 200 years later.

Hoping to create a buzz around Runge, whose place in history resulted in large part from an accident followed by a chance encounter, the search engine dedicated an animated doodle on his 225th birthday.

Born to a Lutheran pastor family in Hamburg, Germany, on this day in 1795, Runge expressed interest in chemistry from an early age and began conducting experiments as a teenager.

He identified the pupil-dilating effects of belladonna when he accidentally splashed a drop of the toxic perennial, also known as deadly nightshade, into his eye.

However, it is not pupil dilation, rather a stimulating discovery by Runge in 1819 that has made him famous.

After Runge demonstrated his belladonna discovery to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, impressed by the 25-year-old chemist, Goethe had handed Runge a bag of rare coffee beans and suggested he analyse their chemical makeup.

Shortly thereafter, Runge isolated the active ingredient we know today as caffeine.

"Here's to Runge, without whom the pain of forgoing one's morning cup of coffee might never have had a scientific explanation," the Google blogpost said.

After earning his doctorate from the University of Berlin, Runge went on to teach at the University of Breslau until 1831 when he left academia to take a position at a chemical company.

During this time, he invented the first coal tar dye and a related process for dyeing clothes.

His contributions to the world also include: being one of the first scientists to isolate quinine (a drug used to treat malaria), considered an originator of paper chromatography (an early technique for separating chemical substances), and even devising a method for extracting sugar from beet juice.

Despite his contributions to chemistry, Runge died in poverty in 1867 at the age of 73.

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