WURTZ, CHARLES ADOLPHE French chemist, was born at Wolfisheim, near Strasbourg. When he left the Protestant Gymnasium at Strasbourg in 1834 he studied medi cine, and in 1839 was appointed "Chef des travaux chimiques" at the Strasbourg faculty of medicine. In 1845 he became assist ant to J. B. A. Dumas at the t cole de Medecine, and in 5849 lectured on organic chemistry in his place. In 1852 Wurtz was appointed to the combined chairs of organic chemistry and of mineral chemistry and toxicology at the faculty of medicine. In 1875 he became the first occupant of the chair of organic chem istry which he had induced the government to establish at the Sorbonne. He died in Paris on May io, Wurtz's first published paper was on hypophosphorous acid. (1842), and the continuation of his work on the acids of phos phorus (1845) resulted in the discovery of phosphorus oxychlo ride, as well as of copper hydride. But his original work was mainly in the domain of organic chemistry. Investigation of the alkyl isocyanates (1848) led him to the discovery of the amines (1849), and later (1851) the compound ureas. In 1855 he showed that the combination between two hydrocarbon radicles could be brought about by the action of sodium on the alkyl iodides; this important reaction is known by his name. About the same time he reached the conclusion that glycerin is a body of alcoholic nature formed on the type of three molecules of water, as com mon alcohol is on that of one, and was thus led (1856) to the study of the glycols, bodies similarly related to the double water type. The oxidation of the glycols led him to homologues of lactic acid, and a controversy about the constitution of the latter with H. Kolbe resulted in a better understanding of the relations between the hydroxy- and the amino-acids. In 1867 Wurtz pre
pared neurine synthetically by the action of trimethylamine on glycol-chlorhydrin, and in 1872 he discovered aldol, pointing out its double character as at once an alcohol and an aldehyde. In addition reference may be made to his work published from 1865 onwards, on abnormal vapour densities. While on the olefines he noticed that a change takes place in the density of the vapour of amylene hydrochloride, hydrobromide, etc., as the temperature is increased, and in this he saw a powerful argument in favour of the view that abnormal vapour densities, such as are exhibited by ammonium chloride or phosphorus pentachloride, are to be ex plained by dissociation.
From 1852-72 Wurtz published in the Annales de chimie et de physique abstracts of chemical work done out of France. The publica tion of his great Dictionnaire de chimie pure et appliquie, in which he was assisted by many other French chemists, was begun in 1869 and finished in 5878 ; two supplementary volumes were issued 188o-86, and a second supplement was completed in 5908. Among his books are Chimie medicale (1864), Lecons elementaires de chimie moderne (1867), Theorie des atotnes dans la conception du monde (1874), La Theorie atomique (1878), Progres de l'industrie des matieres colorantes artificielles (1876) and Traite de chimie biologique (188o-85) .
For his life and work, with a list of his publications, see Charles Friedel's memoir in the Bulletin de la Societe Chimique (1885) ; also A. W. von Hofmann in the Ber. dent. chem. Ges. (1887), reprinted in vol. iii. of his Zur Erinnerung an vorangegangene Freunde (1888).