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MEYER, VICTOR:

German chemist; born in Berlin Sept. 8, 1848; died in Heidelberg in 1897. He was inclined toward literature and the stage, when a visit to his elder brother, then studying chemistry at Heidelberg, turned his thoughts into another channel, and he decided to become a chemist. He thoroughly prepared himself in mathematics and natural science in one of the gymnasiums of Berlin, spent one semester at the University of Berlin, and studied for some time with A. W. Hofmann. In 1865 he entered the University of Heidelberg, in whose faculty there were such men as Helmholtz, Kirchhoff, and Bunsen. The last-named made him his private assistant. In 1868 he returned to Berlin to increase under Bayer his knowledge of organic chemistry.

When only twenty-three years old he was appointed assistant professor at the Stuttgart Polytechnic School, and in 1872 was called to Zurich as the successor of Wislicenus. His brilliant work in Switzerland (1872-85), both in the laboratory and in the lecture-room, attracted students from many countries.

In 1885 he received a call from the University of Göttingen, and spent three years in reorganizing the laboratories there. In 1889 he was invited to Heidelberg, his alma mater, to succeed Bunsen. The latter regarded him as the brightest and most promising of the many eminent men who had studied under him, and it was his wish on his retirement that Meyer should be appointed as his successor.

Meyer's fame as a lecturer was world-wide; and his ingenuity and skill in devising and manipulating experiments, combined with his personal magnetism, attracted many hearers. Meyer's remarkable insight is illustrated by his discovery and studies of the thiophene group (1882). He discovered and described the type of oximes (1882), investigated the nitro-(1872), nitroso-, isonitroso-, and iodo - compounds (1892), and studied the organic derivatives of ammonia, and with these the stereochemistry of nitrogen. He published his important researches on the esterification of the acids of the aromatic series (1894-95).

Of great value are his investigations in physical chemistry, particularly those of vapor densities (1878-80) and the study of high temperatures. Together with Jacobson he wrote an excellent text-book on organic chemistry ("Lehrbuch der Organischen Chemie," 2 vols., Leipsic, 1891-95). Of hisother works may be mentioned: (with Langer) "Pyrochemische Untersuchungen," Brunswick, 1885; "Die Thiophengruppe," ib. 1888; "Chemische Probleme der Gegenwart," Heidelberg, 1890; "Ergebnisse und Ziele der Stereochemischen Forschung," 1890; (with Treadwell) "Tabellen zur Qualitativen Analyse," 3d ed., Berlin, 1891; "Aus Natur und Wissenschaft," Heidelberg, 1892; "Märztage im Kanarischen Archipel," ib. 1893.

Meyer's unceasing and confining work ultimately shattered his nervous system; and in a fit of dejection he took his own life.

Bibliography:
  • Meyers Konversations-Lexikon;
  • Zeitschrift für Anorganische Chemie, xvi.;
  • Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau, xii., Nos. 43, 44;
  • H. Goldschmidt, Zur Erinnerung an Victor Meyer, Heidelberg, 1897.
S. J. G. L.
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