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    Georg Wittig Nobel Prize Medal in Chemistry Received in 1979, Together with Four Additional Medals. Wittig received the Prize for his 1954 discovery of the "Wittig reaction", a process of regulating the regrouping of atoms in a molecule. The medal, designed by Swedish artist Erik Lindberg, measures 6.5 cm in diameter (approximately 2.5") and weighs 204.0 grams. Struck in 22 carat gold, it features female allegories of Science revealing Nature, with Wittig's name and the year of the award engraved beneath. The obverse features a side portrait of Alfred Nobel with the dates of his birth and death in Roman numerals. The medal is housed in the original case it was presented in.

    Offered together with:

    The Paul Karrer Gold Medal awarded in 1973 by Universitat Zurich. The medal is cast in 22 carat gold, 92.7 grams, and measures 2 inches in diameter. Designed by Hermann Hubacher (1885-1976), it features a profile bust of Paul Karrer on the recto; the verso reads UNIVERSITAT ZURICH = PAUL KARRER VORLESUNG, with Wittig's name engraved in center within laurel branches. Housed in its original case.

    Otto Hahn Prize for Chemistry and Physics awarded in 1967. Cast in 14 carat gold, 123 grams, 2.25". Recto features a bust portrait of Hahn; verso reads, OTTO HAHN FVER CHEMICAL PHYSICS VND, and a nude male figure crouched within a molecule model. Named for Otto Hahn (1879-1968), a German chemist and pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for the discovery and the radiochemical proof of nuclear fission. The medal is considered to be the highest German award for outstanding scientific achievements. It was awarded only twelve times from 1955 to 2003; and Wittig was the 6th recipient. Housed in its original case.

    The Roger Adams Medal given by the American Chemical Society in 1973. Cast in 10 carat gold, 258.9 grams, and 3 inches in diameter. Recto features a chest-up bust of Adams; verso has a twelve-line inscription and Wittig's name within a wreath of palm branches.

    Adolf Von Baeyer Medal awarded in 1953. Designed by Hermann Hahn (1868-1945). Gold-plated, 83.3 grams, 2 inches in diameter. Recto features bust profile portrait of Von Baeyer; verso has a nude male sower, dated 1910 below in roman numerals (MCMX).

    Georg Wittig was born in Berlin, Germany, on June 16, 1897 to Gustav Wittig, a teacher at the applied arts school at Kassel, Germany, and Martha Dombrowski Wittig. Soon after he was born, Wittig moved with his family to Kassel where he attended high school, graduating in 1916. He then attended the University of Tübingen to study chemistry, but World War I interrupted his studies. Drafted into the German military, Wittig became a lieutenant in the cavalry of Hesse-Kassel. Captured by British forces in 1918, he was a prisoner of war until 1919. After the war Wittig hoped to continue his education in chemistry, but found German universities overcrowded and he was denied admittance. With the assistance of Karl von Auwers, professor of organic chemistry at the University of Marburg, Wittig was admitted to that institution, from which he graduated in 1923 with a BS in chemistry and in 1926 with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry under the direction of Karl von Auwers. On the advice of his doctoral advisor, Wittig decided to pursue an academic career.

    Wittig wrote a 400-page textbook on stereochemistry, which was published in 1930. A year after his textbook was published, he married Waltraud Ernst, a colleague from Karl von Auwers' working group who also had a doctoral degree. The couple had three daughters. Wittig taught chemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig (1932-1937) and the University of Freiburg (1937-1944) before he was appointed head of the organic chemistry department at the University of Tübingen in 1944. In 1956, at the age of nearly sixty years of age, he was appointed as head of the organic chemistry department at the University of Heidelberg, where he remained until long after his retirement in 1967, publishing papers in his field as late as 1980.

    Most of Wittig's scientific work, including that which won him the Nobel Prize, was conducted during his years at the University of Tübingen. Known as a meticulous teacher who set very high standards for his students, Wittig established a productive research group of young, promising scientists. His research in chemistry included the subject of ring tension and double bonds as well as valency tautomerism. Wittig's main research, however, concerned the organic reactions of alkali metals and elaboration of carbon-based chemistry. He was the co-discoverer of the halogen-metal exchange reaction, and he developed ylide chemistry. He, along with Herbert C. Brown, won the Nobel for Chemistry in 1979 for his work in developing the process of regulating the regrouping of atoms in a molecule, a process called the Witting Synthesis or the Witting Reaction. This method of linking carbon and phosphorus opened new ways to synthesize biologically active substances. The work of Witting and Brown made it possible to mass produce hundreds of important drugs, such as the arthritis medicine hydrocortisone, and industrial chemicals that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

    In addition to the prizes offered here, Wittig also won the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (1967), and the German Chemical Society's Karl Ziegler Memorial Prize (1975). Witting was a member of numerous learned societies, including the French Academy of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Swiss Chemical Society, the Chemical Society of Peru, and the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

    Suffering from ill health during his later years, Wittig died on August 26, 1987, a few weeks after his 90th birthday.




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