The New International Encyclopædia/Wöhler, Friedrich
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WÖHLER, vẽlẽr, Friedrich (1800-82). A German chemist, born near Frankfort-on-the-Main. He was educated at the Gymnasium at Frankfort, then studied medicine and chemistry at the universities of Marburg and Heidelberg, and subsequently worked under the direction of Berzelius at Stockholm. In 1825 he returned to Berlin and was invited to teach chemistry at the newly established industrial school of that city. In 1831 he received a similar appointment at Cassel. In 1836 he was made professor of chemistry in the medical department of the University of Göttingen and inspector-general of the pharmacies of Hanover. He died at Göttingen. Wöhler is justly considered as one of the founders of organic chemistry, his name being connected with the most important discoveries in the early history of the science. In 1828 he effected the synthesis of urea — the first organic compound produced by artificial laboratory means, without the agency of life. The first cases of isomerism (i.e. the existence of different compounds having the same composition) were likewise observed by Wöhler (see Chemistry; Carbon Compounds), and no less a contribution was formed by the classical research on the benzoyl compounds, carried out by Wöhler in conjunction with Liebig. (See Chemistry, historical section.) Many other results of importance were achieved by Wöhler in all branches of chemistry. He isolated the elements aluminum, glucinum, yttrium, and titanium, and founded the nickel industry by devising a process of manufacturing the pure metal on a large scale. As a teacher, too, he was brilliant and many-sided. His Grundriss der Chemie and Die Mineralanalyse in Beispielen passed through numerous editions and were translated into several languages. He also edited in German Berzelius's voluminous Lehrbuch der Chemie and Jahresberichte. Hofmann published an excellent biography of Wöhler in the Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft (1882), and edited Aus Justus Liebigs und Friedrich Wöhlers Briefwechsel (1888). Wöhler published the results of his investigations in Liebig's Annalen der Chemie und Pharmacie, of which he became co-editor in 1838. In 1890 a monument was erected to his memory at Göttingen.