Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in by Peter Reed

By Peter Reed

Robert Angus Smith (1817-1884) used to be a Scottish chemist and a number one investigator into what got here to be referred to as 'acid rain'. This research of his operating lifestyles, contextualized via dialogue of his youth, schooling, ideals, relatives, pursuits and affects sheds mild at the evolving figuring out of sanitary technological know-how in the course of the 19th century. Born in Glasgow and first and foremost educated for a occupation within the Church of Scotland, Smith in its place went directly to examine chemistry in Germany lower than Justus von Liebig. On his go back to Manchester within the 1840s, Smith's robust Calvinist religion lead him to strengthen a robust main issue for the insanitary environmental stipulations in Manchester and different business cities in Britain. His appointment as Inspector of the Alkali management in 1863 enabled him to marry his social matters and his paintings as an analytical chemist, and this publication explores his position as Inspector of the management from its inception via battles with chemical brands within the courts, to the fight to widen and tighten the regulatory framework as different damaging chemical nuisances turned identified. This research of Smith's lifestyles and paintings offers a tremendous heritage to the best way that 'chemical' got here to have such unfavorable connotations within the century sooner than e-book of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It additionally deals a desirable perception into the altering panorama of British politics as rules and enforcement of the chemical industries got here to be obvious as worthy, and is vital examining for historians of technology, expertise and within the 19th century, in addition to environmental historians looking historical past context to the twentieth-century environmental pursuits.

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48 His close friend, Edward Schunck drew attention to Angus Smith’s moral character: in his case an intellect of high order was united to a character of the purest and noblest type. 49 Most of his social activities revolved round meetings of the MLPS and its specialist sections such as the Microscopical and Natural History section. He satisfied his intense interest in Scottish history and archaeology by making regular visits north of the border whenever time allowed from his busy schedule, and these visits were often combined with the opportunity to visit friends or relatives.

For details of Playfair’s time studying with Liebig at Giessen, see Reid, Lyon Playfair, pp. 42–3. 9 Liebig was ennobled in 1845. 10 He received a PhD from Erlangen for this research on ‘The Relation of Mineral Chemistry to Plant Chemistry’ in 1823, and the following year he was appointed Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Giessen, which began an association with Giessen until his move to Munich in 1852. At Giessen, Liebig established his laboratory and the internationally renowned school of chemistry that attracted many aspiring young chemists from across the world.

11 Thomas Graham also developed practical laboratory exercises but it is generally agreed that this development was independent of Liebig. 12 James Muspratt, the Liverpool alkali manufacturer, developed a friendship with Liebig that embraced their families, and James’s sons, who trained with Liebig, continued friendships with Liebig’s children after the death of the two fathers. H. ), Justus von Liebig und August Wilhelm Hofmann in ihren Briefen (Weinheim, 1984), p. 179. Acid Rain and the Rise of the Environmental Chemist in Britain 36 a view to producing artificial manures that would increase the productivity of the soil.

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