Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/861

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SKETCH OF DR. MAX VON PETTENKOFER.

SKETCH OF DR. MAX VON PETTENKOFER.

"A CHAMPION against the Cholera" is the designation which Dr. Karl Stieler gives to the subject of this sketch, in his admirable biography of him in a former volume of "Daheim," to which we shall be largely indebted for such parts of our own article as are not mere date and detail. Since Dr. Stieler's article was written, Dr. Pettenkofer has distinguished himself by intelligent and thorough investigations in other forms of disease and in more extended fields of sanitary science, to the practical results of which it is impossible to attach too much value.

Max von Pettenkofer was born December 3, 1818, at Lichtenheim, a quiet rural estate not far from Neuberg, on the Danube. When it came time to prepare for his life-career, he went to pursue his studies at Munich, where his uncle was court pharmacist, and there he occupied himself with such branches as were prescribed for students who intended to become physicians—branches which were sharply laid down in an inflexible course, for it at that time seemed a waste, says Dr. Stieler, to study anything that did not pertain to the class-examination. Happily, these studies were suited to the young man's taste; and, when he was graduated Doctor of Medicine in 1843, they pointed to the way which he had chosen. After graduation, led in that direction by Fuchs, he turned his attention to chemistry, and pursued that science, with physics, at Munich and Würzburg, and under Liebig at Giessen, steadily keeping his eye fixed on the relation of these branches to the healing art. In 1845 he was assistant in the chief office of the mint in Munich. In 1847, when not quite twenty-nine years old, he began his work as an academical teacher by accepting an appointment as extraordinary professor in the medical faculty at Munich. Six years later, in 1853, he became a regular professor, having in the mean time succeeded his uncle as director of the court pharmacy. Under his management this establishment became a real scientific laboratory. His first labors were predominantly technological, and related to the affinities of gold, the preparation of platinum, and the hydraulic lime of England and Germany. He also found a process for obtaining illuminating gases from wood, and investigated hæmatinon and aventurine glass. He made studies in oil-colors, in the course of which he discovered a valuable method of preserving oil-paintings.

The peculiar and most evident direction, however, in which his activity manifested itself was in the field of public hygiene, in which he has accomplished an extraordinary amount. His first important efforts in this region were his investigations of heating by stoves and by air, of the conditions of house-ventilation, of the influence of soil