On the occasion of the 225th anniversary of his birth, Google dedicated a doodle to Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, the German chemist who discovered caffeine.
Who was Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge?
Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was born outside Hamburg on February 8, 1795. Son of a Lutheran pastor, he expressed interest in chemistry from an early age and began conducting experiments as a teenager.
During one of those tests, he accidentally splashed a drop of belladonna extract into his eye, noting its dilating effects of the pupil.
Ten years later, while studying the renowned chemist and inventor Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner at the University of Jena, Runge was asked to reproduce the effects of belladonna in a demonstration for one of Döbereiner’s friends: the poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Impressed by the 25-year-old chemist, Goethe handed Runge a bag of rare coffee beans and suggested that he analyze his chemical composition. Soon after, Runge isolated the active ingredient that is now known as caffeine.
Video Credits: The Independent
After obtaining his doctorate degree from the University of Berlin, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge continued teaching at the University of Breslau until 1831, when he left the academy to take up a position in a chemical company until 1852 but was dismissed by a resentful manager and died fifteen years later in poverty.
During this time, he invented the first coal tar colorant and a related process for dyeing clothes.
His contributions to the world also include being one of the first scientists to isolate quinine (a drug used to treat malaria), considered an originator of paper chromatography (an early technique for separating chemicals) and even devise a method to extract sugar from beet juice, pyrrole, phenol, thymol, and atropine.
Runge died on March 25, 1867, but will always be remembered for his contributions to the field of chemistry.