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Published: Kem. Ind. 67 (7-8) (2018) 319–324
Paper reference number: KUI-12/2018
Paper type: Professional paper / History of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
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Colloid Theory of Life in Bubanović’s “Chemistry of Living Beings” (1918)

N. Raos


The popular science book “Kemija živih bića” (Chemistry of Living Beings) written in 1918 by Croatian biochemist Fran Bubanović (1883–1956) reflects the state of biochemical science at the beginning of the 20th century. The dominant theory was biocolloidy that connected all cellular phenomena to the change of colloidal state of protoplasm. Bubanović was familiar with Emil Fischer’s lock-and-key theory of enzyme action and the basic structure of proteins as polymers of amino acids, but he made no attempt to unite colloidal and molecular theory of physiological chemistry. Bubanović was a very popular figure in Croatian science; he was the student of H. J. Hamburger and S. Arrhenius, the first professor of chemistry at the Zagreb University School of Medicine (1918), and the author of many textbooks and popular science books as well as a number of essays concerning philosophical and political topics. His “Kemija živih bića” is worth reading even today because of its exceptional literal quality.

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history of biochemistry, popularization of science, proteins, colloids