Arthur Michael (1853–1942): The Michael Addition Reaction

This Name Reaction Biography presents Arthur Michael best known for the Michael addition reaction.

The Michael reaction is now 130 years old, and its use has continued unabated since. As its often the case, the chemist behind the reaction is not nearly as well known to chemists as the reaction itself. Despite several useful biographies of Michael, most organic chemists have little knowledge of his far-reaching work, or of the razor-sharp intellect that he used to great effect in criticizing the science of his contemporaries.

Michael was born in Buffalo, New York, and attended classical school there, where he received private instruction in chemistry. His father, a well-off real-estate investor, encouraged his son's early love for chemistry, setting up a home laboratory for him and allowing him to conduct his own experiments there. However, toward the end of his teens he suffered a serious illness, which eliminated his chances of entering Harvard College but allowed him to dabble in art and literature before returning to chemistry.

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