1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Boussingault, Jean Baptiste Joseph Dieudonné

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4
Boussingault, Jean Baptiste Joseph Dieudonné
18434671911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4 — Boussingault, Jean Baptiste Joseph Dieudonné

BOUSSINGAULT, JEAN BAPTISTE JOSEPH DIEUDONNÉ (1802–1887), French chemist, was born in Paris on the 2nd of February 1802. After studying at the school of mines at Saint-Étienne he went, when little more than twenty years old, to South America as a mining engineer on behalf of an English company. During the insurrection of the Spanish colonies he was attached to the staff of General Bolivar, and travelled widely in the northern parts of the continent. Returning to France he became professor of chemistry at Lyons, and in 1839 was appointed to the chair of agricultural and analytical chemistry at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris. In 1848 he was elected to the National Assembly, where he sat as a Moderate republican. Three years later he was dismissed from his professorship on account of his political opinions, but so much resentment at this action was shown by scientific men in general, and especially by his colleagues, who threatened to resign in a body, that he was reinstated. He died in Paris on the 11th of May 1887. His first papers were concerned with mining topics, and his sojourn in South America yielded a number of miscellaneous memoirs, on the cause of goitre in the Cordilleras, the gases of volcanoes, earthquakes, tropical rain, &c., which won the commendation of A. von Humboldt. From 1836 he devoted himself mainly to agricultural chemistry and animal and vegetable physiology, with occasional excursions into mineral chemistry. His work included papers on the quantity of nitrogen in different foods, the amount of gluten in different wheats, investigations on the question whether plants can assimilate free nitrogen from the atmosphere (which he answered in the negative), the respiration of plants, the function of their leaves, the action and value of manures, and other similar subjects. Through his wife he had a share in an estate at Bechebronn in Alsace, where he carried out many agricultural experiments. He collaborated with J. B. A. Dumas in writing an Essai de statique chimique des ètres organisés (1841), and was the author of Traité d’économic rurale (1844), which was remodelled as Agronomie, chimie agricole, et physiologie (5 vols., 1860–1874; 2nd ed., 1884), and of Études sur la transformation du fer en acier (1875).