Travels in the Knowledge Web:
Goethe to Margarine
Goethe 1749 – 1832 – Literary, philosophical and scientific (comparative anatomy) biggie of 18th century Germany (magnum opus: his version of Marlowe’s ‘Faust’), leading figure of ‘Storm and Stress’ Romantic thinkers, his poems set by Mozart and Schubert, advanced the development of the novel, and was the object of dangerously
unbalanced obsession on the part of… Bettina von Arnim – Sister of Romantic folk-song collector Clemens von Brentano, she sat on Goethe’s knee and never got over it. When she grew up she was a pal of Beethoven and member of the Berlin chattering classes. She knew everybody: the Schumanns, Brahms, Liszt, Mendelssohn, explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and Russian writer… Turgenev – Greatest novel: ‘Fathers and Sons,’ he had a life-long affair with French singer Pauline Viardot. His writing about the harsh conditions of Russian peasant life got him into trouble and he eventually left Russia and major writers like Henry James, Carlyle, and Thackeray. His support boosted the career of… Tchaikovsky– Megastar Russian composer of such greats as ‘Swan Lake.’ Had sell-out concerts all over Europe and in the USA. He was a great admirer of Wagner, mentored Rachmaninov, and knew Grieg, Saint-Saens, Brahms, and Dvorak. His best Russian musical pals were Rimsky Korsakov, Mussorgsky and, in St Petersburg, ‘Polovtsian Dances’ composer… Borodin – Who was also an internationally-recognised chemist (condensation of aldehydes) , worked at the St Petersburg Medico-Surgical Academy when he wasn’t touring Europe with chemist pal Mendeleyev, and was a key figure in the development of the Russian Medical School for Woman. At the 1860 First International Chemistry Conference, he was blown away by a paper from … Stanislao Cannizzaro – Sicilian Professor of Chemistry who first worked out the difference between atoms and molecules, wrote a classic chemistry course book, and was the first to say that inorganic and organic chemistry obeyed the same laws. He was a Garbaldi supporter. As a student he worked at the Paris lab of the great… Michel Chevreul – Who became boss of the National French Tapestry Factory and (no surprise) the guru on the interaction between fats, dyes and textiles. He lit up and cleaned up the world with his cheap way to make candles and soap. His colour theories inspired Seurat and the other Impressionists. His protégé was… Hippolyte Meges-Mouries – Pharmacist and patent holder for effervescent tablets, high-wheat-content bread-making, refining sugar, and use of egg yolks in leather-tanning. With starving factory workers and a shortage of butter, Meges-Mourries found a way to process beef fat with salt and pepsin (a stomach enzyme), and came up with a cheap imitation called…
firm Van den Berg.