Continued from http://www.scienceindia.in/home/view_blog/26

Dear students how many of you know about TERPENES and PINENES? Terpenes are a class of organic compounds produced from variety of plants and particularly conifers. The name "terpene" is derived from the word "turpentine", which is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin obtained from live trees, mainly pine tree. As a solvent, turpentine is used for thinning oil-based paints, for producing varnishes, and as a raw material for the chemical industry. Pinene is one of the major chemical components of turpentine.

Why are we  telling all this stuff? Pioneering study on these terpenes/pinenes, which are part of the important alicyclic compounds was doneby  Prof. Otto Wallach which won  him the Nobel prize in chemistry for the year 1910.

Otto Wallach was born on 27 March 1847 in Königsberg, which is the historical name for the present-day city of Kaliningrad (Germany). His father was a high-ranking civil servant and later became Auditor General. As a child Wallach was more interested in history and arts.

After school education, in 1867 Wallach went to Göttingen to study chemistry with Wöhler, Fittig and Hübner and obtained his doctor's degree  in 1869 under Hübner working on position isomers in the toluene series. In 1876 he was appointed as Professor Extraordinary and in 1879 he became the Chair of Pharmacology.

It was an accidental entry for Wallach to enter into this Nobel prize winning filed. One day Friedrich August Kekulé who was working in the same department drew his attention to an old forgotten cupboard full of bottles containing essential oils, and invited Wallach to make a study of the contents. Thus entering a field of study in which he was to be the eminent pioneer for more than a decade, and which was to be his main life-work, crowned with the highest possible distinction. This small incident reveals us that passion and curiosity are  the driving forces for  great inventions. In 1909 he published the results of his extensive studies in his book Terpene und Campher, a volume of 600 pages dedicated to his pupils.

Wallach received the Nobel Prize in 1910 for his work on alicyclic compounds. His other honours included Honorary Fellowships of the Chemical Society (1908), Honorary Doctorates of the Universities of Manchester, Leipzig and the Technological Institute of Braunschweig.

Apart from being a great scientist, Wallach worked for military service in the Franco-Prussian war. He remained as a bachelor throughout his life, and died on February 26, 1931