Who Is Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge?

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge: Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who is celebrated in today’s Google Doodle, was the discoverer of caffeine and the first person to isolate quinine, but his contribution to chemistry is often overlooked. He also invented paper chromatography, a method for separating chemicals that are widely used in teaching labs.

Runge was born in Germany in 1794, the son of a pastor and the third of seven children. While working as an apprentice in his uncle’s pharmacy, he got a drop of henbane juice in his eye and noticed that his pupil dilated. Based on experiments on a cat’s eye, he went on to write a dissertation on the toxic effects of atropine, a chemical found in plants like henbane and deadly nightshade. Atropine blocks receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is released by the nervous system to activate muscles.

Who Is Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge?

Runge studied chemistry at the University of Jena, Germany, under J. W. Döbereiner, an adviser to the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His fellow students called him “Dr. Gift” – the German word for poison. Döbereiner arranged for Runge to perform a demonstration of atropine’s ability to make cats’ pupils dilate for Goethe. Goethe was suitably impressed, and at the end of their meeting, he presented Runge with a packet of coffee beans, suggesting that their chemical components might be worth investigating. Runge studied the beans, and later that year, he discovered caffeine.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge Pronunciation

Google Doodle honored Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, a German analytical chemist, today on his 225th birth anniversary. Runge is famous for his work on identifying caffeine and finding the effect of the belladonna plant’s extract on dilating pupils. The German chemist was born on February 8, 1794, and died on 25 March 1867.

From a very young age, Runge was interested in experimenting and making inventions, which also helped him, build his career. He studied at the University of Berlin, where he also received his doctorate. Later he went on to teach at the University of Breslau till 1831.

His discovery of belladonna extract was made when he accidentally splashed a drop in his eye and took note of its effect on his pupil. His work was then identified by the German writer and polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

It was Goethe who then asked Runge to study and identify the chemical composition of coffee beans.  Other of Runge’s pioneering work includes inventing the first coal tar dye and finding the process of dyeing clothes.

Runge, who was born in Hamburg, also helped in finding the method for taking out sugar from beet juice and he was also the first scientist to isolate quinine, the drug used to treat malaria.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge Died

Runge was born in the Billwerder quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on February 8, 1794, as the third child of a pastor. His family initially could only afford to send him to elementary school, but he began working as an apprentice at his uncle’s pharmacy at the age of 16, where he started to experiment with chemistry. One of his earliest findings was that the extract of the belladonna plant, also known as deadly nightshade, could dilate pupils. He discovered this when he accidentally splashed some in his eye, and in true scientist form, he took notes.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge Died

A decade later, he demonstrated this effect for Goethe, although this time, he used a cat. Runge explained that he used the extract to treat partial blindness in a soldier. In his book, he recounted that this demonstration so impressed the legendary philosopher and diplomat that “he handed me a carton of coffee beans, which a Greek had sent him as a delicacy. ‘You can also use these in your investigations,’ said Goethe. He was right; for soon thereafter I discovered therein caffeine, which became so famous on account of its high nitrogen content.”

Runge went on to receive a doctorate from the University of Berlin and taught at the University of Breslau before leaving to work for a chemical company. Throughout his life, he also turned his chemistry knowledge toward practical matters like removing stains, making wine, and cooking.

Despite his contributions, many of his accomplishments went unrecognized and were often attributed to other scientists. He eventually had a falling out with his employer and lost his job. Runge died in poverty on March 25, 1867, at the age of 73.

Happy 225th birthday to the curious German chemist, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge! … Runge earned his doctorate from the University of Berlin, taught at the University of Breslau, and later became a chemist for a chemical company. During this time he invented the first coal tar dye used to dye clothes.

He was born on February 8, 1794, and died on March 25, 1867. He began conducting experiments at a young age. During one experiment, he accidentally splashed a drop of belladonna extract in his eye. … Runge tragically died in poverty.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe helped Runge identify caffeine.

He used the coffee to identify caffeine a few months later.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge Wiki

In 1819, Runge was invited to show Goethe how belladonna caused dilation of the pupil, which Runge did, using a cat as an experimental subject. Goethe was so impressed with the demonstration that

“Nachdem Goethe mir seine größte Zufriedenheit sowol über die Erzählung des Durch scheinbaren schwarzen Staar Geretteten, wie auch über das Andere ausgesprochen, übergab er mir noch eine Schachtel mit Kaffeebohnen, die ein Grieche ihm als etwas Vorzügliches gesandt. “Auch diese können sie zu Ihren Untersuchungen brauchen,” sagte Goethe. Er hatte recht; denn bald darauf entdeckte ich darin das, wegen seines großen Stickstoffgehaltes so berühmt gewordene Coffein.”
“After Goethe had expressed to me his greatest satisfaction regarding the account of the man whom I’d rescued [from serving in Napoleon’s army] by apparent “black star” [i.e., amaurosis, blindness] as well as the other, he handed me a carton of coffee beans, which a Greek had sent him as a delicacy. “You can also use these in your investigations,” said Goethe. He was right; for soon thereafter I discovered therein caffeine, which became so famous on account of its high nitrogen content.”

A few months later, Runge identified caffeine.

Runge studied chemistry in Jena and Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate. After touring Europe for three years, he taught chemistry at the University of Breslau until 1831. From then until 1852 he worked for a chemical company but was dismissed by a resentful manager and died fifteen years later in poverty, in Oranienburg.

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