Google Doodle celebrated German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge on his 225th birth anniversary Thursday. He is best remembered for discovering caffeine, after being given a carton of coffee beans as a gift following a demonstration of his pupil dilating discovery. Caffeine is the psychoactive drug present in coffee beans which is responsible for stimulating the central nervous system. He was born near Hamburg on February 8, 1794, and conducted experiments from a young age. Told to investigate them by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Runge was able to isolate caffeine.
His work no doubt enabled the method of removing caffeine from coffee, allowing people the choice of getting a buzz on, or not. 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. Runge also is recorded as being the first person to notice Liesegang rings in chemicals undergoing a precipitation reaction.
Also during 1934, he was one of the first scientists able to isolate quinine, which is used to treat malaria. Again, his discovery came from the coal tar which he seems to have had a mild professional obsession with.
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 --- a tragic end.