1830-08-19 to 1895-04-11
GermanyJulius Lothar Meyer (19 August 1830 – 11 April 1895) was a German chemist. He was one of the pioneers in developing the earliest versions of the periodic table of the chemical elements. Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev (his chief rival) and he had both worked with Robert Bunsen. Meyer never used his first given name, and was known throughout his life simply as Lothar Meyer.
In 1858, Lothar received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Breslau with a thesis on the effects of carbon monoxide on the blood. With this interest in the physiology of respiration, he had recognized that oxygen combines with the hemoglobin in blood.
Influenced by the mathematical teaching of Gustav Kirchhoff, Lothar took up the study of mathematical physics at the University of Königsberg under Franz Ernst Neumann and in 1859, after having received his habilitation (certification for university teaching), became Privatdozent in physics and chemistry at the University of Breslau.
His book, Die modernen Theorien der Chemie, which he began writing in Breslau in 1862 and which was published two years later, contained an early version of the periodic table containing 28 elements, classified elements into six families by their valence—for the first time, elements had been grouped according to their valence. Works on organizing the elements by atomic weight, until then had been stymied by the widespread use of equivalent weights for the elements, rather than atomic weights.
In 1872, Meyer was the first to suggest that the six carbon atoms in the benzene ring (that had been proposed a few years earlier by August Kekulé) were interconnected by single bonds only, the fourth valence of each carbon atom being directed toward the interior of the ring.
During the Franco-Prussian War, the Polytechnic was used as a hospital and Meyer took an active role in the care of the wounded. In 1876, Meyer became Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tübingen.