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Ira Remsen

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Ira Remsen

The life of

Ira Remsen

Ira Remsen was born on February 10, 1846 in New York

city. Even though he was born in the United States, he was

educated in Germany. He received his M.D. at Columbia University in 1867 and he also earned a Ph.D. at the University of Munich and G'ttingen in Germany. After receiving his degrees, Remsen began his investigation in pure chemistry at the University of T'bingen.

It was in Germany and in Europe Remsen did most of his research. In 1876 he returned to the United States where his became one of the original faculty of Johns Hopkins University. There he founded the chemistry department. He was an excellent professor who trained a generation of prominent chemists. He was also the Director of the Chemical Laboratory and secretary of the Academic Council. In 1879, he was the founding editor of American Chemical Journal. Also in that same year, he made a remarkable, accidental discovery with a fellow researcher Constantine Fahlberg when they were working on a derivative of coal tar.

One night, after a long day in his laboratory

He we was having dinner with wife. When he was eating a regular roll. Remsen noticed that it was quite sweet at first, but it left a bitter after-taste. He made his wife taste the bread and he found nothing wrong or something unusual about the taste. So Remsen decided to taste his fingers and there he found that same sweet then bitter taste despite washing his hands thoroughly after working in his lab. After dinner, he returned to his laboratory and started to taste all the chemicals he was handling. When he found that chemical, it was oxidation of o-toluenesulfonamide and he called it saccharin. In 1880, Remsen and Fahlberg published their findings in the February issue of The Chemical Journal.

Many people thought that it was Constantine who discovered saccharin, but he stole the formula from Remsen. When they stopped working together, Constantine patented the formula and became filthy rich. As a result Remsen didn't received any credit for the discovery. Constantine

received the recognition that Remsen earned and rightfully deserved. Remsen was furious at first about the matter; "it makes my blood boil to see the lies that scoundrel Fahlberg constantly, constantly in print, and to see further, that they are generally believed." Later Remsen would apologize for this outburst.

Remsen moved to bigger and better things. In 1901, he was appointed President of Johns Hopkins University, there in that same year, he wrote several important textbooks on chemistry. Remsen also found the School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins. He introduced many German laboratory methods into Johns Hopkins and emphasized the university's function as a research "centre". At the time at Johns Hopkins he helped establish the ...

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