Background for the article by Zinoffsky (1886)
Ueber die Grösse des Hämoglobinmolecüls
Hoppe-Seyler's Zeitschrift für Physiologische Chemie 10, 16 - 34
David Keilin (1887 - 1963), a renown physiologist-parasitologist at the University of Cambridge and a person who used a spectroscope to study heme proteins involved in cellular respiration, summarized clearly the significance of the discoveries of G.G.Stokes in our first article as follows:
Among the scientists attracted to hemoglobin study was Felix Hoppe-Seyler (1825 -1895). In addition to being the first to observe the absorption spectrum of hemoglobin (3) and give the name hemoglobin, he also crystallized hemoglobin (4) and confirmed it contained iron. After crystallizing hemoglobin Hoppe-Seyler, who had been trained as a physiologist, shifted his interest to chemistry (5). He established the first laboratory devoted to what we would call biochemistry. Our next article, published in Hoppe-Seyler's journal by Zinoffsky, uses quantitative analytical methods to estimate the imperical formula (and by inference the size) of hemoglobin.
In modern biochemistry, protein crystallization has become an important skill based on basic physical principles. The crystals are placed in an x-ray diffractometer to determine their three-dimensional molecular structure. To destroy a precious crystalline protein for elemental analysis today would be almost unthinkable.
The fact that Zinoffsky wrote his article in German posed a considerable challenge to students in CHEM-342 in 1993 and highlighted how few biochemistry majors study the language. Several decades ago German was required for graduation in chemistry and biochemistry because so many important discoveries were published in German. Fortunately a translation of Zinoffsky's article by Cathy Saltern (BS 1993 in chemical education and German) eliminates translation as a learning issue this year. Given that English is the almost universal language of science, consider the communication problem of scientists for whom English is a foreign language.
1 Keilin, D. (1966) The History of Cell Respiration and Cytochrome, Cambridge University Press
2 Fruton, J. (1972) Molecules and Life - Historical Essays on the Interplay of Chemistry and Biology, Wiley-Interscience, New York
3 Hoppe, F. (1862) Ueber das Verhalten des Blutfarbstoffes im Spectrum des Sonnenlichtes. Virchows Arch. 23, 446 - 449
4 Hoppe-Seyler, F (1864) Ueber die chemischen und optischen Eigenschaften des Blutfarbstoffs. Virchows Arch 29, 233 - 235
5 Asimov, I. (1972) Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York