Jeremias Benjamin Richter - Encyclopedia


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JEREMIAS BENJAMIN RICHTER (1762-1807), German chemist, was born at Hirschberg in Silesia on the 10th of March 1762, became a mining official at Breslau in 1794, and in 1800 was appointed assessor to the department of mines and chemist to the royal porcelain factory at Berlin, where he died on the 4th of April 1807. To him belongs the merit of carrying out some of the earliest determinations of the quantities by weight in which acids saturate bases and bases acids, and of arriving at the conception that those amounts of different bases which can saturate the same quantity of a particular acid are equivalent to each other. He was thus led to conclude that chemistry is a branch of applied mathematics and to endeavour to trace a law according to which the quantities of different bases required to saturate a given acid formed an arithmetical, and the quantities of acids saturating a given base a geometrical, progression. His results were published in his Anfangsgriinden der Stochiometrie oder Messkunst chemischer Elemente (1792-94), and Ober die neueren Gegenstande in der Chemie (1792-1802), but it was long before they were properly appreciated, or he himself was accorded due credit for them. This was partly because some of his work was wrongly ascribed to C. F. Wenzel by Berzelius through a mistake which was only corrected in 1841 by Germain Henri Hess (1802-1850), professor of chemistry at St Petersburg, and author of "the laws of constant heat-sums and of thermoneutrality" (see Thermochemistry).

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