William Perkin? Meet Silas Cook!

Organic chemistry has a long history. This week we took a look at William Perkin, whose "unsuccessful" preparation of quinine spawned an entire industry, and Silas Cook, Reed '99, who recently supervised the first short "total" synthesis of artemisinin.

A closer look at the following web pages reveals that I reported some dates incorrectly in class: Queen Victoria wore a mauve-colored dress, but not until after the Royal Exhibition of 1851 was just a memory.

A nice book on the subject of Perkin, mauve, etc., is Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World. You can also learn quite a bit at these links:

  • William Perkin, 1838-1907. The teenager who "dyed" Queen Victoria purple
  • August Wilhelm von Hofmann, 1818-1892. The professor who took on a precocious 15-year-old assistant. Wikipedia also describes him as the first lecturer to make use of molecular models
  • Quinine, an early treatment for malaria obtained from the cinchona tree
  • Artemisinin, a "new" treatment for malaria obtained from sweet wormwood
  • Mauveine, the dye that transformed commoners into royalty
  • Silas Cook (Reed '99), Chemistry Department, U. Indiana. His Reed thesis title was: "The synthesis of 3,5-bis(carboranyloxy)benzaldehyde : the precursor to a novel boronated porphyrin for use in boron neutron-capture therapy"
This entry was posted in Post-lecture. Bookmark the permalink.