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Kolbe, Adolphe Wilhelm Hermann

KOLBE, ADOLPHE WILHELM HERMANN (1818-1884), German chemist, was born on the 27th of September 1818 at Elliehausen, near Gottingen, where in 1838 he began to study chemistry under F. Wohler. In 1842 he became assistant to R. W. von Bunsen at Marburg, and three years later to Lyon Playfair at London. From 1847 to 1851 he was engaged at Brunswick in editing the Dictionary of Chemistry started by Liebig, but in the latter year he went to Marburg as successor to Bunsen in the chair of chemistry. In 1865 he was called to Leipzig in the same capacity, and he died in that city on the 25th of November 1884. Kolbe had an important share in the great development of chemical theory that occurred about the middle of the 19th century, especially in regard to the constitution of organic compounds, which he viewed as derivatives of inorganic ones, formed from the latter in some cases directly by simple processes of substitution. Unable to accept Berzelius's doctrine of the unalterability of organic radicals, he also gave a new interpretation to the meaning of copulae under the influence of his fellow-worker Edward Frankland's conception of definite atomic saturation-capacities, and thus contributed in an important degree to the subsequent establishment of the structure theory. Kolbe was a very successful teacher, a ready and vigorous writer, and a brilliant experimentalist whose work revealed the nature of many compounds the composition of which had not prev : ously been understood. He published a Lehrbuch der organischen Chcmie in 1854, smaller textbooks of organic and inorganic chemistry in 1877-1883, and Zur Entunckelungsgeschickte der theorelisdien Chemie in 1881. From 1870 he was editor of the Journal fur praklische Chemie, in which many trenchant criticisms of contemporary chemists and their doctrines appeared from his pen.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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