Justus Liebig

Justus Liebig nsIn existographies, Justus Liebig (1803-1873) (IQ:175|#233) (Cattell 1000:382) (Murray 4000:11|C) (Partington 50:2) (GCE:4) (CR:37) was a German chemist notable for his teaching of French chemist Antoine Lavoisier’s 1785 combustion theory of animal heat; one student in particular being German physician-physicist Robert Mayer, who in 1840 used the “dark blood = more combustion” variant of the theory to derive the mechanical equivalent of heat, the first formulation of the the conservation of energy. Liebig was an associate of Karl Mohr.

Liebig, according to English chemist James Partington’s famous 1937 A Short History of Chemistry (a shortened version of his three-volume treatise), according to index citation page count, is one of the top five chemists of history: Jacob Berzelius (52), Liebg (39), Jean Dumas (38), Robert Boyle (30), and Antoine Lavoisier (26).

One of Liebig's most famous students was German physician-physicist Robert Mayer, who studied under him in 1838 at medical school.

Liebig, in his 1842 Animal Chemistry, used a language of vital forces and and drew on the metaphor of the furnace to describe the “metamorphosis” of nutrition and oxygen. [3]

In 1842, Liebig published Mayer’s controversial paper, entitled "Remarks on the Forces of Inorganic Nature" (previously rejected elsewhere), in his Annals of Chemistry and Pharmacy, in which one of the first statements of the mechanical equivalent of heat appeared: [1]

“The warming of a given weight of water from 0˚C to 1˚C corresponds to the fall of an equal weight from the height of about 365 meters.”

In this now-famous paper, Mayer is said to have argued for the principle that has since become known as the law of conservation of energy; in which he introduced the concept of fall-force. [2]

Another noted student of Liebig was Russian biochemist Carl Schmidt, who is noted for being the PhD supervisor for German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald in 1875 at the University of Tartu, Estonia.

1. (a) Mayer, Robert. (1842). “Remarks on the Forces of Inorganic Nature”, Annalen der Chemie und Pharmacie, Vol. xlii, (pg. 233), May.
(b) Mayer, Robert. (1842). “Remarks on the Forces of Inorganic Nature”, in Philosophical Magazine (pgs. 371-77), 1862, translated by G.C. Foster.
2. Ellis, Brian D. (2002). The Philosophy of Nature (pg. 151). McGill-Queen’s Press.
3. Popper, Karl. R. (1993). Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge (pg. 14). Open Court Publishing.

Further reading
● Grove, William R., Faraday, Michael, Liebig, Justus, and Carpenter, William. (1876). The Correlation and Conservation of Forces. D. Appleton and Co.

External links
Justus Liebig – Wikipedia.
Justus Liebig – NNDB.

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