Jean-Baptiste Andre Dumas

Jean-Baptiste Andre Dumas

French organic chemist and statesman.
Date of Birth: 14.07.1800
Country: France

  1. Biography of Jean Baptiste André Dumas
  2. Career in Education and Science
  3. Contributions to Organic Chemistry

Biography of Jean Baptiste André Dumas

Jean Baptiste André Dumas was a French organic chemist and statesman. He was born on July 14, 1800, in Alès, France. In his youth, he studied pharmacy and in 1816, he went to Geneva to work as an assistant pharmacist. After completing his studies at the University of Geneva, he moved to Paris in 1823.

Career in Education and Science

From 1823 to 1840, Dumas worked at the Polytechnic School in Paris and became a professor in 1835. He also taught at the Sorbonne (1832-1868), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1829-1852), and the Higher Medical School (from 1839). In 1832, he became a member of the Paris Academy of Sciences and served as its permanent secretary from 1868. He was also elected a member of the Royal Society of London in 1840 and awarded the Copley Medal in 1844. In 1845, he became a foreign correspondent member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Dumas held various positions in the French government, including Minister of Agriculture and Commerce from 1849 to 1851. He was a member of the Senate in 1856, president of the Municipal Council of Paris in 1859, and head of the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint) in 1868. In 1859, he became the president of the French Chemical Society. He was also a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences from 1880.

Contributions to Organic Chemistry

Dumas made significant contributions to the field of organic chemistry. In 1826, he proposed a method for determining vapor density, which allowed him to calculate the atomic mass of several elements. However, Dumas did not clearly distinguish between atoms and molecules, leading to some erroneous conclusions. In 1830, he developed a volumetric method for quantitatively determining nitrogen in organic compounds, known as the Dumas method.

In 1827, Dumas analyzed the composition of acetone and complex esters. He, along with French chemist P. Boullay, concluded that ethylene, ethyl alcohol, and their simple and complex esters were derivatives of the same radical, which J.J. Berzelius named etherin. Dumas considered etherin as a base, similar to ammonia. These ideas formed the basis of the etherin theory, one of the theories of complex radicals.

In the 1830s, Dumas studied the action of chlorine on organic compounds and formulated empirical rules for hydrogen substitution with chlorine (metalepsy reaction). In 1835, he conducted research on wood alcohol together with E.M. Péligot, comparing its composition and properties with those of ethyl alcohol, and laid the foundation for the classification of alcohols.

Dumas also made important discoveries in other areas. In 1839, he established that fats are complex ethers. He obtained trichloroacetic acid in the same year and proposed the idea that any element in chemical compounds can be replaced by others. Based on his research on metaleptic substitution, he proposed the first theory of types, an alternative to Berzelius' electrochemical dualism.

Throughout his career, Dumas also investigated the influence of food on the chemical composition of milk from different animals and the composition of blood. He was involved in silk production and participated in efforts to combat the phylloxera epidemic.

Jean Baptiste André Dumas passed away on April 11, 1884, in Cannes, France. His scientific contributions and leadership in the field of chemistry continue to be recognized and celebrated.