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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/619

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

JUSTUS VON LIEBIG AND THE FIRST LABORATORY

It has been necessary to wait a long while for a biography of Justus von Liebig, but it has now appeared from the competent hand of Professor Jakob Volhard, of Halle, a chemist of distinction, known also as the biographer of A. W. Hofmann. Liebig and Volhard's father were school friends; the young Volhard was treated almost as a child in Liebig's family; later he was his assistant at Munich and succeeded him in some of his lectures. The biography appears in two large volumes from the publishing house of Barth and contains, in addition to a full personal narrative, an extended account of Liebig's researches in organic chemistry.

As has often happened in the case of those who have become eminent in science, Liebig's father—a dealer in drugs—was engaged in work which influenced the interests of the son; his mother was a woman of character; he was backward in his school studies, but made rapid advances when permitted to take up his chosen work, so that he received his doctor's degree at the age of nineteen and an assistant professorship at the age of twenty-one; he traveled and studied abroad.

At the beginning of the last century there was in Germany a remarkable renascence in letters, philosophy and philology, to be followed a little later by the revival which gave the universities their leading place in the advancement of the natural and exact sciences. Liebig was born in 1803, and when he studied at the university the sciences were dominated by the philosophy of nature of the post-Kantians. He says that he was robbed of two precious years of his life by the infection. Schelling, whose lectures he heard, was

PSM V74 D619 Liebig laboratory at giessen.png
Liebig's Laboratory at Giessen.