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Cool Science-y Tidbits
#31
RE: Cool Science-y Tidbits
(May 28, 2019 at 2:47 pm)BrianSoddingBoru4 Wrote: Eduard Buchner (1860-1917) was a German chemist.  Around the turn of the 20th century, there was a lot of arguing about whether yeast cells were required for fermentation, or whether there was a compound in the yeast cells that was responsible.  Buchner settled things once and for all.  In what sounds like a pretty tedious process, he ground yeast along with sand and diatomaceous earth with a mortar and pestle and extracted the resulting goo.  Microscopic examination showed no yeast cells.  Buchner was a vitalist (one of those convinced that fermentation could only arise from living yeast cells), so we can well imagine his surprise when he added sugar - intended as a preservative - to the goo and it began to ferment.  A little more fiddling about and Buchner was able to isolate the compound responsible and called it 'zymase', one of the first half-dozen or so enzymes to be discovered.  Buchner won the 1907 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.

In 1914, in a fit of patriotic pride, Buchner volunteered for the German army in WWI and was killed by a shell fragment in 1917.  Some fifty years earlier, Louis Pasteur volunteered for the Franco-Prussian War.  The French authorities patted him soothingly on the head (metaphorically speaking), pointed out that his scientific work was much more valuable to France than one middle-aged soldier, and sent him back to his laboratory.

Stupid Germans.

Boru

Unfortunately in that horrible war, there was only one soldier that was worth milions...
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#32
RE: Cool Science-y Tidbits
(May 29, 2019 at 2:39 pm)LastPoet Wrote:
(May 28, 2019 at 2:47 pm)BrianSoddingBoru4 Wrote: Eduard Buchner (1860-1917) was a German chemist.  Around the turn of the 20th century, there was a lot of arguing about whether yeast cells were required for fermentation, or whether there was a compound in the yeast cells that was responsible.  Buchner settled things once and for all.  In what sounds like a pretty tedious process, he ground yeast along with sand and diatomaceous earth with a mortar and pestle and extracted the resulting goo.  Microscopic examination showed no yeast cells.  Buchner was a vitalist (one of those convinced that fermentation could only arise from living yeast cells), so we can well imagine his surprise when he added sugar - intended as a preservative - to the goo and it began to ferment.  A little more fiddling about and Buchner was able to isolate the compound responsible and called it 'zymase', one of the first half-dozen or so enzymes to be discovered.  Buchner won the 1907 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.

In 1914, in a fit of patriotic pride, Buchner volunteered for the German army in WWI and was killed by a shell fragment in 1917.  Some fifty years earlier, Louis Pasteur volunteered for the Franco-Prussian War.  The French authorities patted him soothingly on the head (metaphorically speaking), pointed out that his scientific work was much more valuable to France than one middle-aged soldier, and sent him back to his laboratory.

Stupid Germans.

Boru

Unfortunately in that horrible war, there was only one soldier that was worth milions...

Gary Cooper?

Boru
'A man is accepted into a church for what he believes.  He is turned out for what he knows.' - Mark Twain
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#33
RE: Cool Science-y Tidbits
The Vitamin That Almost Wasn't

Nicotine, one of the deadlier alkaloid poisons, consists of two rings of atoms.  In 1873, Austrian chemist Hugo Weidel found that if he treated a nicotine molecule with nitric acid, the two rings would break apart.  The larger resultant ring he named 'nicotinic acid', because an acid group from the nitric acid shamelessly attached itself.  No one, however, realized that nicotinic acid was a vitamin until 1937, when Conrad Elvehjem used it to cure blacktongue in dogs and pellagra in humans.  At this point, it was re-named 'nicotinic acid vitamin'.

But the fun wasn't over.  As an easy way to combat pellagra, American flour companies began enriching wheat flour with the chemical and (of course) the press began running headlines such as 'Tobacco In Your Food!' and flour consumption dropped like a paralyzed falcon.  In response, a third name for the molecule was chosen:  nicotinic acid vitamin - niacin.  This was done to disabuse people of the different (but connected) notions that 1) there was nicotine in their flour, and 2) there are vitamins in cigarettes.

Stupid consumers.

Boru
'A man is accepted into a church for what he believes.  He is turned out for what he knows.' - Mark Twain
Reply



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