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 Nikolai Zinin


Born:   13 August 1812
Deceased:   06 February 1880

Russian chemist

      

Nikolai Zinin was born in 1812. The boy received secondary education in Saratov, and after finishing school, he went to Kazan, where entered local university, headed by Nikolai Lobachevsky at that time. Zinin was excellent at entrance examinations and was enrolled to the department of physical and mathematical sciences in 1830.

From the very first day Nikolai Zinin showed great talent – professors noticed him and gave him a research topic, since most gifted student should have stayed within the university. Zinin’s research topic was “Studying disturbances of regular movement of planets, comets and satellites under influence of other celestial bodies”. In 1835 Nikolai Zinin successfully passed masters examinations, and academic board offered him a topic for future dissertation. Nikolai was very surprised, because the topic was dealing with chemistry. Upset, Zinin visited the rector of the university, and great scientist Nikolai Lobachevsky convinced young researcher that chemists were what Russia needed at the moment.

Zinin agreed, and since that day his life was dedicated to chemistry. In 1837 Nikolai went to Berlin, being a fluent speaker of three European languages. In Germany Zinin attended the special course of lectures in physiological chemistry, learned mathematics and medicine. Then Zinin moved to Hessen, where he attended lectures and seminars in experimental and analytical chemistry, read by the world-famous chemist Liebig. Soon first scientific success came to Zinin – he discovered a simple method of turning benzaldehyde (an important component of the scent of almonds, hence its typical odor) to benzoin. Description of said discovery was the first scientific publication of Nikolai Zinin, coming off the press in 1839. His love to chemistry grew stronger every day.

In 1840 Nikolai Zinin returned to Russia, where defended the Doctor dissertation the following year. After defense young scientist got back to Kazan and married his landlady. The problem that bothered him was what substance appeared after treating nitrobenzene with hydrogen sulfide. The scientists expected some sulfur-containing substance, but – what a surprise – the product, a colorless liquid, didn’t contain any traces of sulfur. The smell of the product reminded Zinin of aniline, but he saw aniline in Germany, and it was dark brown. Zinin reported about his new substance in 1842 in the “Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences”, and sent the sample of it to Germany. Several weeks later the answer arrived – his mysterious substance was aniline definitely. Nikolai Zinin was the first in the world to show that aniline can be synthesized in a very simple manner – reducing nitrobenzene with hydrogen sulfide.

 

 

”Zinin’s
Zinin’s reaction
Zinin’s discovery caused a great interest among European scientists. His reaction of aniline synthesis opened a vast field for aniline applications. The reaction of aromatic amine synthesis by reduction of nitro compounds with hydrogen sulfide bears Zinin’s name. In 1845 Zinin synthesized azoxybenzene, then hydrazobenzene, which used to turn into benzidine in the presence of an acid.

While living in Kazan, Zinin dreamt of moving to St. Petersburg, and after his wife unexpected died of consumption, the scientist’s dream came true. In 1848 Zinin was invited to head the chemistry department in Medical and Surgical Academy in St. Petersburg. The scientist strongly believed that a true medic should know chemistry and physics, since all processes, taking place in an organism, were of chemical and physical origin. Soon Nikolai Zinin got married for the second time. The researcher continued his studies of nitrous compounds. In 1853-1854 Zinin and his colleagues developed a means for saturating black powder with nitroglycerine. In 1858 Zinin was elected the corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences. In 1862 Zinin retired form reading lectures, and two years later Zinin became the academician. In 1868 Nikolai Zinin founded Russian chemical society and headed it.

Nikolai Zinin died of heart attack on February 6, 1880.

Source: Organic Impacts

Kizilova Anna


Tags: Russian science Russian scientists    




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