Posts Tagged ‘August von Hofmann’

Historical detective stories: colourful crystals.

Friday, October 21st, 2011
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Organic chemists have been making (more or less pure) molecules for the best part of 180 years. Occasionally, these ancient samples are unearthed in cupboards, and then the hunt for their origin starts. I have previously described tracking down the structure of a 120 year-old sample of a naphthalene derivative. But I visited a colleague's office today, and recollected having seen a well-made wooden display cabinet there on a previous visit. Today I took a photo of one of the samples:

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The colour of purple

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
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One of my chemical heroes is William Perkin, who in 1856 famously (and accidentally) made the dye mauveine as an 18 year old whilst a student of August von Hofmann, the founder of the Royal College of Chemistry (at what is now  Imperial College London). Perkin went on to found the British synthetic dyestuffs and perfumeries industries. The photo below shows Charles Rees, who was for many years the Hofmann professor of organic chemistry at the very same institute as Perkin and Hofmann himself, wearing his mauveine tie. A colleague, who is about to give a talk on mauveine, asked if I knew why it was, well so very mauve. It is a tad bright for today’s tastes!

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