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NICOLAS THEODORE DE SAUSSURE (1767-1845)

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 239 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NICOLAS THEODORE DE SAUSSURE (1767-1845), eldest son of Horace Benedict de Saussure, was born on the 14th of October 1767, at Geneva, and is known chiefly for his work on the chemistry of vegetable physiology. He lived quietly and avoided society; yet like his ancestors he was a member of the blastic and large, possessing a large quantity of yolk; in all the egg is provided in the oviduct with a layer of albumen and outside this with a horny or calcareous shell. In a few cases the egg is hatched in the oviduct, ut n tese cases tere s no ntmate connexon eween the embryo and the walls of the duct. Fertilization takes place internally, occurring at the upper end of the oviduct previously to the deposition of the albuminous layer and egg shell. Comparative anatomy clearly sho*s that birds are closely allied to reptiles; enthusiasts even spoke of them as " glorified reptiles," and this view seemed to receive its proof by the discoveries of Archaeopteryx (q.v.), and the numerous bipedal Dinosaurs. But Archaeopteryx was after all a bird, although still somewhat Genevan representative council, and gave much attention to public affairs. In the latter part of his life he became more of a recluse than ever, and died at Geneva on the 18th of April 1845. When a young man Nicolas Theodore accompanied his father in his Alpine journeys and assisted him by the careful determination of many physical constants. He was attracted to chemistry by Lavoisier's brilliant conceptions, but he did not become great as an originator. He took a leading share in improving the processes of ultimate organic analysis; and he determined the composition of ethyl alcohol, ether and some other commonly occurring substances. He also studied fermentation, the conversion of starch into sugar, and many other processes of minor importance. The greater number of his 36 published papers dealt with the chemistry and physiology of plants, the nature of soils, and the conditions of vegetable life, and were republished under the title Recherches chimiques sur la vegetation.
End of Article: NICOLAS THEODORE DE SAUSSURE (1767-1845)
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