(b. London, England, 2 January 1831; d. London, 6 October 1870)
As a young child Matthiessen suffered a seizure that left him handicapped with a permanent twitching of the right hand. As a result he was considered unfit physically for most careers and was sent to learn farming. During his three-year stay on a farm, he nevertheless developed an interest in chemistry. At this time agricultural chemistry was attracting wide attention as a result of the writings of Liebig. It therefore was natural for Matthiessen to choose the University of Giessen to continue his education in chemistry, and he took his Ph.D. there in 1853.
From 1853 to 1857 Matthiessen worked in Bunsen’s laboratory at the University of Heidelberg. Under Bunsen’s direction Matthiessen prepared significant quantities of lithium, strontium, magnesium, and calcium by electrolysis of their fused salts. He then carried out a study with Kirchhoff on the electrical conductivity of these metals and of sodium and potassium.
In 1857 Matthiessen left Heidelberg and returned to London. He worked for a few months in Hofmann’s laboratory at the Royal College of Chemistry. Here he studied the steps in the action of nitrous acid on aniline. Soon he moved to a small laboratory in his home and worked there for four years. At this time he began one of his most important studies, on the chemistry of narcotine and related opium alkaloids. In 1861 Matthiessen was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. He held the lectureship in chemistry at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School from 1862 to 1868, and then became a lecturer at St. bartholomew’s Medical School, both schools of the University of London. During this time he pursued research on the electrical, physical, and chemical properties of metals and their alloys. From 1862 to 1865 he served on the British Association Committee on the Standards of Electrical Resistance. Augustus Matthiessen committed suicide on 6 October 1870.
I. Original Works. A list of Matthiessen’s publications can be found in the Royal Society’s Catalogue of Scientific Papers. Among his important works are the following: “On the Electric Conducting Power of the Metals of the Alkalies and Alkaline Earths,” in Philosophical Magazine, 13 (1857), 81–90; “On the Electric Conducting Power of Copper and its Alloys,” in Proceedings of the Royal Society,11 (1860–1862), 126–131; and a series of papers on the chemical constitution of the opium alkaloids.
II. Secondary Literature. Obituaries of Matthiessen appeared in: Nature,2 (1870), 517–518; Journal of the Chemical Society, 24 (1871), 615–617; American Journal of Science, 101 (1871), 73–74; and Proceedings of the Royal Society, 18 (1870), 111. An account of the details of his suicide appeared in The Times (London), 8 October 1870, p. 5, col. 5.
Daniel P. Jones
"Matthiessen, Augustus." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/matthiessen-augustus
"Matthiessen, Augustus." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . Retrieved November 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/matthiessen-augustus
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.