1070-4272/01/7411-1977$25.00C2001 MAIK [Nauka/Interperiodica]
Russian Journal of Applied Chemistry, Vol. 74, No. 11, 2001, pp. 1977!1979. Translated from Zhurnal Prikladnoi Khimii, Vol. 74, No. 11,
2001, pp. 1913!1915.
Original Russian Text Copyright + 2001 by Morachevskii.
HISTORY OF CHEMISTRY
AND CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY
Scientific, Pedagogical, and Public Activities
of Professor N.N. Sokolov
(to 175th Birthday Anniversary)
One of honorable places in the history of the
domestic chemical science of the XIX century belongs
to Nikolai Nikolaevich Sokolov, a talented scientist
and pedagogue, organizer of scientific investigations,
founder of the first Russian chemical journal.
N.N. Sokolov was born on December 13, 1826, in
Yaroslavl province into a merchant’s family. Having
entered, when being very young, St. Petersburg Uni-
versity, he graduated from the then existing cameral
department of the faculty of law, and later, in 1847,
from the natural department with a candidate degree.
At that time, chemistry was taught at the University
by a known scientist and excellent pedagogue,
A.A. Voskresenskii (180931880), who graduated in
1836 from the Central Pedagogical Institute in St. Pe-
tersburg and worked in 183631837 at the laboratory
of J. Liebig (180331873) at Giessen University
In 1848, to complete his education, Sokolov went
abroad and, at first, also worked at Liebig’s laboratory
and carried out quite a number of investigations there.
He, in particular, studied the behavior of creatinine in
products of vital activity of herbivorous animals and
birds. Together with A. Strecker (182231871), Lie-
big’s co-worker, he synthesized hippuric acid, con-
verted it into benzoglycolic acid, and for the first time
obtained glycolic acid by its hydrolysis (Ann. Chim.,
1851). At the same place, at Giessen University,
Sokolov studied crystallography and mineralogy
under supervision of Prof. H.F. Kopp (181731892).
Sokolov retained interest in crystals and minerals for
his whole life. In 1852, Nikolai Nikolaevich moved to
Paris and began investigations at the laboratory of
Prof. C.-F. Gerhardt (181631856) who in his time
(183631837) was taught by J. Liebig in Giessen.
Charles Gerhardt and another French chemist, Auguste
Laurent (180731853), made an outstanding contribu-
tion to the development of the atomic-molecular
theory. In his book Introduction to Study of Chemis-
try by the Unitary System (1848), Gerhardt substan-
tiated a novel concept of the molecule as an indivis-
ible integrated system of atoms, [unitary system,] and
clearly distinguished the concepts of atom, molecule,
and equivalent. He established that radicals do not
exist independently, being rather groups of atoms,
whose combination forms molecules. Sokolov com-
pletely adopted these and other new, by that time,
concepts of French scientists and, owing to him,
chemistry was taught in Russia in the framework of
the new scheme already in the late 1850s, earlier than
in other countries, including France .
In Paris, Sokolov also worked at the chemical
laboratory of Henri Regnault (181031878), an organic
chemist, also a representative of Liebig’s school, and
a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg
Academy of Sciences (since 1848).
In 1854, Sokolov returned to Russia and started to
work at the Mining School (Mining Institute since
1866; founded in 1773) in St. Petersburg as teacher of
mineralogy and curator of the mineralogical museum.
In 1855, on the instructions of the Mining Department
he traveled across the Urals and exhibited much
interest in minerals formed in metallurgical processes.