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Adolf Fick

Adolf Fick was born August 3, 1829, in Kassel as a son of Friedrich Fick. As the youngest of altogether nine children, he studied medicine in Marburg and Berlin, and completed his doctoral work (Tractatus de errore quodam optico asymmetria bulbi effecto) at 22.

The astigmatism of his eyes caused him to follow this course of research. As early as 1850, he published a scientific article about muscles. His favorite subject at that time was already the application and study of the human body using physical and mathematical laws.

After his doctoral work, he was an assistant with his brother Franz Ludwig Fick, an anatomy professor in Marburg. He moved to Zurich in 1852 to Carl Ludwig. As a successor of Ludwig, he rose to professor of physiology; his most valuable scientific year then followed. In 1855, he published a work about diffusion in the annals of physics and chemistry.

In 1865, he carried out an important experiment, which investigated the energy source of muscle power. Here, the question arose about materials which enable muscle activity. Since muscles are made out of protein, it was thought at that time that proteins would also supply the energy for muscles. Fick determined the quantity of excreted urea during and after climbing a higher mountain. However, from this, nitrogen-free carbon compounds resulted as a source of muscle power, revealing that proteins could not "feed" muscles.

In 1868, he was called to Würzburg as a professor for physiology where he worked until 1899. He died on August 21, 1901 in Flanders.

Last Update: 2004-11-27