Justus Liebig (Darmstadt, 12 May 1803-Munich, 18 April 1873) was the son of a dealer in drugs and dyestuffs in Darmstadt. He acted as assistant to his father and became keenly interested in chemistry, reading extensively in the ducal library at Darmstadt, then in charge of Hess. He was not very successful at school; the rector spoke to him seriously and asked him what he hoped to become, and when Liebig replied ‘a chemist’, the teacher and class were convulsed with laughter. He made experiments in an apothecary’s shop in Heppenheim and a notebook of the period 1819–20 records experiments on colours, etc., and a quantitative experiment on the composition of calomel.1 Liebig then studied chemistry under Kastner at Bonn and Erlangen, but was dissatisfied with the lack of facilities for practical work (although a chemical laboratory in Erlangen was opened in 1754). Carl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner (Greifenberg, Pomerania, 31 October 1783-Erlangen, 13 July 1857) was professor of chemistry in Heidelberg (1805–12), Halle (1812–18), and Bonn (1818–21), and of physics and chemistry in Erlangen (1821).2 Liebig afterwards complained that he had wasted some time in the study of the ‘Naturphilosophie’ then prevalent in Germany (Hegel, Schelling, Steffens, and Oken).3
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