We must do more for inorganic and general chemistry again, if we are not to be put to shame by other countries. . . . To gain more experience in this area, I am spending all my free time in the Imperial Physical and Technical Institute.
-- Emil Fischer to his mentor, Adolf von Baeyer, 1898
But chemistry cannot wait. . . . Hence there remains no other possible choice than to free ourselves from the all too slowly moving process of development of those [academic] institutions, and to take the initiative in creating new functional forms to meet the needs of chemical science and technology.
-- Wilhelm Ostwald, December 1906
What made institutional reformers of Emil Fischer, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Walther Nernst? Probably no single factor can account for their willingness to propose and work toward an Imperial Chemical Institute. Nevertheless, the combined effect on each of them of several related factors brought the three men together in 1905. First, each of the three chemists felt special responsibilities and opportunities to act as disciplinary leaders and organizers. A significant element of their leadership had been directed toward creating professional and institutional links between academic and industrial--or "pure" and "applied"--chemistry; such links were to be an essential aspect of their proposal. Second, all three had experienced frustrations--and Fischer and Ostwald, occasionally debilitating stress--from trying to balance the demands of research and teaching within German chemical institutions. This was related in turn to their growing realization that changes in the world of academic and industrial chemistry from at least the mid-1890s onward would necessitate greater institutional emphasis on specialties previously neglected in Germany, particularly inorganic, physical, and analytic chemistry. It was their conclusion that the German academic system would not accommodate all
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Publication information: Book title: The Kaiser's Chemists:Science and Modernization in Imperial Germany. Contributors: Jeffrey Allan Johnson - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 22.