The Google Doodle honoured German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge (February 8, 1794 -25 March 1867) on his 225th birth anniversary Thursday. Runge is best remembered for identifying caffeine, the psychoactive drug present in coffee beans which is responsible for stimulating the central nervous system.
Runge, who was born in Hamburg began to exhibit an inclination in experimenting in his adolescence. This inclination ultimately proved to be a contributing factor in his illustrious scientific career.
One of Runge’s early findings was the effect of belladonna plant’s extract on dilating of pupils. This finding caught the attention of the German writer and polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe asked Runge to study and identify the chemical composition of coffee beans.
Runge successfully identified and separated the chemical caffeine from Arabic mocha beans. Thus, the isolation of the ingredient caffeine took place for the first time in 1819.
Despite having engraved his name in the scrolls of chemical history, Runge spent the last days of his life in poverty after being sacked by the manager of a chemical company in 1852. Runge died 15 years later, on March 25, 1867, at the age of 73.