Jean Baptiste André Dumas (Alais, 14 July 1800-Cannes, 11 April 1884) had a classical education in the College of Alais and at first intended to enter the Navy, but the political unrest in 1814–15 turned his attention to science and he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Alais. In 1816, wishing to improve his knowledge, he set out on foot to Geneva, where he entered the pharmaceutical laboratory of Le Royer, with whom he later1 published determinations of the specific volumes of liquids. Geneva was a centre of academic life, and Dumas came under the notice of Theodore de Saussure and De CandoUe, the botanists. He also studied chemistry and carried out work which attracted the attention of Gaspard De la Rive, then professor of chemistry at Geneva. In 1818 he collaborated with Coindet in the use of iodine compounds as a cure for goitre.2 Dumas then worked with the physiologist Jean Louis Prévost (Geneva; 1790–1850; M.D. Edinburgh 1818), with whom he published on electrical phenomena in muscle, and the sizes and shapes of blood corpuscles.3 Dumas met Alexander von Humboldt in Geneva and was encouraged by him to go to Paris to complete his studies. In 1823 he became, on Arago’s recommendation, lecture assistant of Thenard at the École Polytechnique, but at that time the laboratory in which Gay-Lussac and Thenard had worked was no longer available and practically no apparatus for research could be found. It took Dumas some little time to collect a laboratory.
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