Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nobel Laureates: Hermann Emil Fischer

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1902.

"in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his work on sugar and purine syntheses"

Emil Fischer (1852-1919) (not to be confused with Hans Fischer) is most famous for "Fischer projections," a way of depicting three dimensional molecules in two dimensions. He won the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the structure of sugars and purines.

Purines, are essential components of nucleic acids but Fischer was much more interested in caffeine and theobromine, the active chemicals in coffee and cocoa. He predicted that coffee and chocolate would be replaced by completely artificial bags of chemicals that would be just as satisfying as the real thing.

Here's an image from his Noble Lecture showing the various purines that could be synthesized from guano (bird droppings).

1 comment :

  1. Well, if you can really get caffeine from birdshit, that would explain the taste of Starbucks.