Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge gets his place in the Google Doodle today. He belongs to Germany. Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was an analytical chemist by profession. He has a major place in history as he is responsible for the accident which leads to the discovery of caffeine. On this day in 1795, Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was born. His father was a Lutheran pastor. From a very early age, he was so much interested in chemistry and started conducting experiments in his teens.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge

Runge studied chemistry in Jena and Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate. After touring Europe for three years, he taught chemistry at the University of Breslau until 1831. From then until 1852 he worked for a chemical company but was dismissed by a resentful manager and died fifteen years later in poverty. Read more on the Google Doodle page.

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge – Wide range of Inventions:

His chemical work included purine chemistry, the identification of caffeine, the first coal tar dye (aniline blue), coal tar products (and a large number of substances that derive from coal tar), paper chromatography, pyrrole, quinoline, phenol, thymol, and atropine. He was the first to notice in 1855 the phenomenon of “Liesegang rings”. Besides, he observed them in the course of experiments on the precipitation of reagents in blotting paper.



He earned his doctorate from the University of Berlin. Runge then taught at the University of Breslau. He continued his teaching until 1831 he left academia to take a position at a chemical company. Meanwhile, he invented the first coal tar dye and also the associated 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). He is also an originator of paper chromatography (an early technique for separating chemical substances), and even devising a method for extracting sugar from beet juice. See also about a Computer Scientist, Michael Dertouzos

In addition, Runge conducted chemical experiments and identified the mydriatic (pupil dilating) effects of belladonna (deadly nightshade) extract. In 1819, he demonstrated his finding to Goethe, who encouraged him to analyze coffee. A few months later, Runge identified caffeine.


Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge – The great Event:

In 1819, Runge accepted the invitation to show Goethe how belladonna caused dilation of the pupil, which Runge did, using a cat as an experimental subject. Goethe was so impressed with the demonstration that he said , “After Goethe had expressed to me his greatest satisfaction regarding the account of the man [whom I’d] rescued [from serving in Napoleon’s army] by apparent “black star” [i.e., amaurosis, blindness] as well as the other, he handed me a carton of coffee beans, which a Greek had sent him as a delicacy. “You can also use these in your investigations,” said Goethe. He was right; for soon thereafter I discovered therein caffeine, which became so famous on account of its high nitrogen content. The above words are from Runge’s book Hauswirtschaftlichen Briefen. See also: The facts about Coffee.



Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge once accidentally dropped belladonna extract in his eye. It imposed an effect on the pupil- dilating effects. After a long period of ten years, in the above event, Goethe handed Runge a bag of rare coffee beans. He suggested analyzing their chemical makeup. Finally, Runge isolated the active ingredient we know today as caffeine!

Happy Birthday to Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge!!

Happy Coffee for all!!!



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