Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf Von Baeyer

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf Von Baeyer

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Adolf von Baeyer was born on October 31, 1835, in Berlin, as the son of Johann Jakob Baeyer and Eugenie nee Hitzig. His father, a lieutenant-general, was the originator of the European system of geodetic measurement. Even as a child Baeyer was interested in chemical experiments and at the age of twelve found a new double salt of copper. Bayer devoted his first two years as a student at the University of Berlin (1853-1855) chiefly to Physics and Mathematics.

For the next year or two Baeyer was working with Kekule who had meanwhile become Professor at Ghent. A study of barbituric acid, provided the thesis by which qualified as a university teacher in 1860. It was during the Berlin period that Baeyer began most of the work that was to bring him fame later. In 1865 he started his work on indigo- the blue dye had fascinated him since his youth-and this soon led to the discovery of indole and to the partial synthesis of indigo tin.

Studies were initiated on condensation reactions which, after Baeyer had gone to Strassburg as Professor in the newly established University (1871) brought to light that important category of dyestuffs - the phthaleins. Baeyer's theory of carbon-dioxide assimilation in formaldehyde also belongs to this period. With his tenure at Munich came elegant total synthesis of indigo, as well as work on acetylene and polyacetylene, and form this derived the famous Baeyer strain theory of the carbon rings; there were studies of the constitution of benzene as well as comprehensive investigations into cyclic terpene. In this connexion the Baeyer - discovered. Especial interest was aroused theoretically by his work on organic peroxides and oxonium compounds and on the connexion between constitution and color. He married Adelheid (Lida) Bendemann in 1868. They had one daughter, who became the wife of the chemist Oskar Piloty, and two sons, both university lecturers, Hans in medicine at Munich, and Otto in physics at Berlin. He was still young in spirit when he succumbed to a seizure at his country house at Starnberger on August 20, 1917.


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