In this German publication, which soon appeared in English and French translations, Liebig claimed that because “perfect agriculture is the true foundation of all trade and industry,” a “rational system of agriculture cannot be formed without the application of scientific principles.” Only the chemist, he argued dogmatically, could tell the farmer the best means of feeding plants, the nature of the different soils, and the action of particular manures upon them. Thus, Justus von Liebig of Germany, one of the fathers of organic chemistry and the first proponent of mineral fertilizer, provided the scientific impulse that led to the development of synthetic dyes, high explosives, artificial fibres, and plastics, and Michael Faraday, the brilliant British experimental scientist…, …and tin, but in 1856 Justus von Liebig, a German chemist, invented a process for forming a mirror-like layer of silver on polished glass, which was applied to telescope mirrors by the German astronomer C.A. In that year he published Die organische Chemie in ihrer Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie (Chemistry in Its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology). Imagine the surprise of the first cave person who ever glanced into a reflecting pond. that it had never been able to make a substantial improvement on Mirrors can also be made by applying an aluminum coating to glass. Hofmann: “Each word of his carried instruction, every intonation of his voice bespoke regard; his approval was a mark of honour, and of whatever else we might be proud, our greatest pride of all was having him for our master.”. new silvering solution from a laboratory beaker on a pane of glass, Comment on this on our Facebook page! Justus von Liebig’s mirror was invented in 1835, but the earliest archetypes of mirrors date back more than 6000 years. Justus von Liebig’s inventions: •silver mirror (which replaced the mercury mirror) •meat extract (bouillon) which he called fleish extract •baby food which was a substitute for mother’s milk •meat infusion for seriously ill patients •baking powder •corrosion-resistant alloy of Ni and Fe (a precursor to stainless steel) von Liebig made the first modern mirror 105 years ago, he poured his By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. He died on April 18, 1873, aged 69. Want to engage with this content? von Steinheil. Which one should I buy? In fact if a residue of this substance was left on the mirror, the mirror could crack at the slightest disturbance. Black Friday Sale! Through the popularity of his Familiar Letters on Chemistry, he became viewed as an elder statesman of science, and he regularly commented on broader issues including scientific methodology, the opposition to materialism, and the dangers of failing to recycle sewage or replace soil nutrients that were harvested as animal and human food. The law states that growth is dictated not by total nutrients available, but by the scarcest nutrient (the limiting factor). turn out some $50,000,000 worth of mirrors for thousands of uses from Little did the Evil Queen realize that her handy mirror not only showed her reflection, but the art of chemistry. He applied a solution of silver nitrate in ammonia to the glass and exposed this to vapours of formaldehyde. gave humanity the best look at itself it had ever had. A discovery by the great German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1835 made mirrors widely available. In his 1847 publication Chemische Untersuchung über das Fleisch (Research on the Chemistry of Food), Liebig described a particular “extract of meat” prepared by low-pressure evaporation of the soup from lean meat, and he claimed it to be a valuable restorative for the sick, wounded, and ill-nourished. Premium Membership is now 50% off! Liebig’s former laboratories in Giessen are now the Liebig Museum. * When famed German Chemist Baron Justus von Liebig made the first modern mirror 105 years ago, he poured his new silvering solution from a laboratory beaker on a pane of glass, gave humanity the best look at itself it had ever had. When famed German Chemist Baron Justus Today most mirrors are made of glass, coated with either a chemically deposited…, …mid-19th century the German chemist Justus von Liebig commented that the wealth of a nation could be gauged by the amount of sulfuric acid it produced. Special care has to be taken with mirror tiles to prevent the seepage of water into the spaces between the tiles. Sulfuric acid production for fertilizers accelerated both the industrialization of Europe and the vertical integration of chemical industries. Could this be the origin of the notion that an ugly face can crack a mirror? Since the presence of water speeds up the tarnishing reaction, the reflective surface suffers. …and tin, but in 1856 Justus von Liebig, a German chemist, invented a process for forming a mirror-like layer of silver on polished glass, which was applied to telescope mirrors by the German astronomer C.A. Or Better Yet, Why is the Ocean Blue. Although Liebig’s claim was later proven to be incorrect, and his fertilizers were shown to be inefficient and uneconomic, investigations conducted at the Rothamsted Experimental Station in Hertfordshire by his English pupil J.H. Presto, a mirror was born! a TIME subscriber. A giant among 19th-century German chemists, his charismatic power as a teacher and friend was aptly conveyed by his former student A.W. On the other hand, Liebig argued incorrectly for years that atmospheric ammonia and nitrates in the soil were more important direct sources of plant nitrogen than manures, whose principal function he viewed as providing trace minerals from the products of decomposition that remained in the soil. This acid, essential to many manufacturing processes, remains today the leading chemical product of industrialized countries. Liebig grew increasingly interested in the chemistry of food, especially in discovering better ways to cook meat in order to preserve its nutritional qualities. All rights reserved. The contemporary silvered-glass mirror was invented in 1835 by the German chemist, Justus von Liebig. For instance, Liebig was wrong in claiming that fermentation and putrefaction were merely dynamic reshufflings of the constituent parts of chemical substances; yet his claim prompted many physicians to espouse a chemical theory of disease that challenged the predominant sanitarian view that disease was spread by the poisonous miasma that arose from accumulated sewage. Should you let a dog lick your hand if you used hand sanitizer? One of the byproducts of the reaction turned out to be ammonium nitrate which is explosive! Craftsmen adept at making mirrors guarded the secrets of their process jealously. microscopes to cocktail bars. All because of some very clever chemistry. Liebig remained in Giessen for 28 years, where the Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt made him a baron in 1845. In 1842 Liebig published a sequel, Die organische Chemie in ihrer Anwendung auf Physiologie und Pathologie (Animal Chemistry or Organic Chemistry in Its Applications to Physiology and Pathology), which is considered to be a foundational writing of modern biochemistry. Both directly and indirectly, Liebig was an influential figure in the development of scientific agriculture and, thus, in increasing food production at a time when a rising European population was undergoing vast urban and industrial expansion. If you check the "Remember me" box, you will be automatically signed in for 30 days to TIME.com when you visit in the future. * He also left a The discovery of metals yielded polished sheets which served well until sometime in the 12th century when it was discovered that glass with a metal backing produced a near perfect image. For more information, please visit TIME's Privacy Policy. A false hypothesis in science can often be fruitful; by demonstrating the errors of Liebig’s schemes, many important principles were discovered. Mirrors were later made from polished copper by Ancient Egyptians. In the same decade Liebig also improved the commercial processing of artificial milk for infants, the baking of whole-meal bread, and the silvering of mirrors. [4] See chapter 1 of Mark Pendergrast’s, Mirror, Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection (New York: Basic Books 2003).