HISTORY OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
Although it is most often taught as a dry subject devoid of major
controversy or character, organic chemistry has a truly colorful
history. My own interests in the history of organic chemistry
are in the contributions of Russsian organic chemists to the development
of the science. Despite the fact that most students and teachers
of organic chemistry tend to credit the major advances in the
discipline to the German chemists (Kekulé, Liebig, Wöhler,
Baeyer, and their ilk), many major advances were made by Russian
organic chemists, whose names have also passed into the vocabulary
of the science.
Some major Russian contributors to modern organic chemistry include:
- Aleksandr Erminingel'dovich Arbuzov: the Arbuzov rearrangement
of phosphites to phosphonates
- Aleksandr Porfir'evich Borodin: discovered the Borodin-Hunsdiecker
reaction of silver carboxylates and made the first organic fluorine compound (he is the same person as the renowned composer, which is how he usually appears on "Jeopardy!")
- Aleksandr Mikhailovich Butlerov: an early champion of structural
theory in organic chemistry; first synthesis of a tertiary alcohol.
- Aleksei Yevgenievich Chichibabin: the Chichibabin reaction of pyridines
- Lev Aleksandrovich Chugaev: the Chugaev elimination of xanthate
- Nikolai Yakovlevich Demjanov: the Demjanov rearrangement of β-aminoalcohols
- Aleksei Yevgrafovich Favorskii: the Favorskii rearrangement of
- Vladimir Nikolaevich Ipatieff: pioneer in high-pressure hydrogenation
- Nikolai Matveyevich Kizhner (Kishner): the Wolff-Kishner reduction
of ketones and aldehydes.
- Vladimir Vasilievich Markovnikov: Markovnikov's Rule for addition
- Nikolai Aleksandrovich Menshutkin: the Menshutkin reaction of tertiary amines
- Sergie Semyenovich Nametkin: the Nametkin rearrangement of terpenes.
- Ivan Nikolaevich Nazarov: the Nazarov cyclization
- Nikolai Nikolaevich Reformatskii: the Reformatskii reaction of
- Vyacheslav Yevgenievich Tishchenko: the Tishchenko reaction of aromatic aldehydes with aluminum alkoxides
- Egor Egorevich Vagner (Georg Wagner): the Wagner-Meerwein rearrangement; the
Wagner oxidation (permanganate) of alkenes
- Aleksandr Mikhailovich Zaitsev (Saytzeff): Saytzeff's Rule for
elimination from alkyl halides; the discoverer of sulfoxides
- Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinskii: the Hell-Volhard-Zelinskii reaction
of carboxylic acids
- Nikolai Nikolaevich Zinin: discoverer of the reduction of nitrobenzene
My own special interests are the chemists of the Kazan' School of Chemistry, among whose luminaries are Zinin, Butlerov, Markovnikov, Zaitsev, Vagner, Reformatskii, and Arbuzov.