As you sip your morning cup of coffee and consider the caffeine that will give you a boost for the day, have you ever wondered who first identified the compound and its properties? We owe much of our current knowledge of stimulant stimulation to a man who was born more than two and a quarter centuries ago. Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was the first scientist to identify caffeine. He is accurately credited with changing the world of chemistry forever and here is his inspiring story.
Who is Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge?
Runge was born near Hamburg, Germany, in the year 1795. His father was a Lutheran pastor, but he had a passion for science and was fascinated with chemistry since he was a child. He carried out experiments when he was still a teenager. The precocious young man continued to experiment with many substances, leading to a multitude of scientific discoveries that now inform many of our modern explanations of chemical interactions.
His First Great Discovery: Belladonna
Runge was experimenting with a potentially deadly nightshade extract. The solution accidentally splashed into his eye. He observed that the solution dilated his pupils. A decade passed since this incident before he joined forces with his mentor Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner. He convinced Runge to rerun the experiment for the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was impressed with what he saw.
A chance encounter with a bag of coffee beans.
Goethe was interested in the chemical composition of coffee beans and handed a bag to Runge, 25, and commissioned him to experiment. Through the knowledge he gained at the University, Runge identified the active ingredients in beans and discovered caffeine, identifying it for the first time in history. This set a precedent that would help the world understand why people who drink beverages made with beans experience a stimulating effect.
Runge invented paper chromatography
Paper chromatography is one of the first techniques invented to separate chemicals. Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge is believed to be the first chemist to develop this method, which has been used to separate and identify a large number of chemical compounds. Similarly, he developed an extraction method to separate sugar from beet juice, which had a significant impact on the food industry.
His discoveries contributed to the rise of the textile industry.
Runge accepted a job at a chemical company. While working there, he invented a type of dye made from coal tar, along with an effective method for dyeing fabrics that were used to make clothing. His invention was the world’s first coal tar dye. This changed the way clothing was made and offered a variety of color options. This was, in part, a significant boost in a growing textile industry that led to the rise of the Industrial Revolution. He is also credited with an important role in advancing the Age of Enlightenment, when a myriad of scientific discoveries forever changed the world with more sophisticated factories producing different and better quality products. His discoveries had a ripple effect that provided a basis for later chemists to build on
Your contributions to the medical community
Many of the methods that Runge developed for the separation and isolation of chemical compounds are used in industries around the world, as well as in the medical and research communities. Runge was the first chemist to isolate and identify quinine. Although he did not receive due credit during his lifetime, his work with cinchona bark and the discovery of quinine gave the world a life-saving drug and became the first antimalarial treatment to demonstrate efficacy in fighting disease. . The chemists who received credit for the discovery were a year behind Runge in their work.
Runge’s early discoveries led to modern conveniences
To fully appreciate the pivotal contributions Runge made to the world of chemistry, consider all the modern conveniences that most of us take for granted. When you search your pantry and find canned foods containing meats and vegetables or wine in the cellar, Runge developed many of the processes that led to the safe preservation of these foods and the processes that are now used to create these convenience foods. His work also included processes for making wines from fruits and more. He even discovered an effective way to remove stains …