Recherches sur la Nature de l'Acide Urique.

(Paris, Crochard, 1838). No wrappers. In: "Annales de Chimie et de Physique, Par MM. Gay-Lussac et Arago.", 2e Series, Tome 68, Cahier 3 entire issue offered. Pp. 225-352. Wöhler & Liebig's paper: pp. 225-336.

First French edition of this importent paper in the development of organic chemistry. It is the last joint paper of importence from "these two men, ...pioneers in the development of organic chemistry, form a twin constellation in the chemical firmament"(Alexander Findley in "A Hundred Years of Chemistry", p. 23). The paper is a translation of "Untersuchungen über die Natur der Harnsäure", published at the same time in Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie (1838),

Wöhler and Liebig collaborated on one more major piece of work, a study of uric acid. (The paper offered). Wöhler suggested the subject, and the idea seems to have come from his medical interests. Uric acid was not easily obtainable–snake excrement was the only substantial source–and relationships with urea and allantoin were suspected by Wöhler. As a student he had won a prize in 1828 for an essay on the conversion in the human body of chemicals taken orally and excreted in urine. The technique adopted by Liebig and Wöhler was to subject uric acid, ad the derivatives they prepared, to oxidation and reduction by reagents of different concentrations and strengths. Wöhler seems to have been the first to heat reagents together in sealed glass tubes, but after an explosion he thought metal ones safer.

Their 100-page paper described fourteen new compounds and their preparation and analysis.7 An attempt to establish a new radical called "uril" (C8N4O4) was less successful. Perhaps even more significant than the sophisticated, practical and theoretical organic chemistry was the new spirit revealed. Writing to Berzelius in 1828, Wöhler was doubtful whether animal substances could be prepared in the laboratory. In 1832 he began the paper on the benzoyl radical with a description of organic chemistry as "the dark region of organic nature." But in 1838 his work with Liebig led him to write (at Liebig’s suggestion): "The philosophy of chemistry will conclude from this work that it must be held not only as probable but [as] certain that all organic substances, insofar as they no longer belong to the organism, will be prepared in the laboratory. Sugar, salicin, morphine will be produced artificially. It is true that the route to these and products is not yet clear to us, because the intermediaries from which these materials develop are still unknown, but we shall learn to know them."(DSB).

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