1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saussure, Nicolas Théodore de

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

SAUSSURE, NICOLAS THEODORE DE (1767-1845), eldest son of Horace Bénédict de Saussure, was born on the 14th of October 1767, at Geneva, and is known chiefly for his work on the chemistry of vegetable physiology. He lived quietly and avoided society; yet like his ancestors he was a member of the Genevan representative council, and gave much attention to public affairs. In the latter part of his life he became more of a recluse than ever, and died at Geneva on the 18th of April 1845.

When a young man Nicolas Théodore accompanied his father in his Alpine journeys and assisted him by the careful determination of many physical constants. He was attracted to chemistry by Lavoisier's brilliant conceptions, but he did not become great as an originator. He took a leading share in improving the processes of ultimate organic analysis; and he determined the composition of ethyl alcohol, ether and some other commonly occurring substances. He also studied fermentation, the conversion of starch into sugar, and many other processes of minor importance. The greater number of his 36 published papers dealt with the chemistry and physiology of plants, the nature of soils, and the conditions of vegetable life, and were republished under the title Recherches chimiques sur la végétation.