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Fritz Haber






Fritz Haber (1868-1934) was a German national who won the 1918 Nobel prize in Chemistry. He won the prize for the synthesis of ammonia (a process he discovered in 1905). Ammonia is an important chemical in the creation of fertilizer. Before Haber's discovery, the world relied on Chilean ammonia.


The Chilean reserves (basically a huge deposit of bird poop) were rapidly running out. When that was gone, the world would basically run out of fertilizer, crop yields would diminish, and the entire world would starve to death. Haber stepped up to the plate and saved the world. So why isn't he celebrated like Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford, or even Ken Hakuta?


He did a funny thing during World War I. He invented chemical warfare. Haber was responsible for the first major chlorine gas attack at Ypres, France on April 22, 1915.


In another strange twist of events and fate, Haber (who was Jewish) was responsible for the rise of Nazi Germany. It works like this: Haber's ammonia extraction process was not only useful for making fertilizer but allowed Germany to make explosives. Without Haber's process Germany would not have lasted long in WWI. If Germany had not lasted long, it would not have had to face ruinous war debts that destroyed the Germany economy and brought Hitler to power.


Funny how life is.



-- Karl Mamer





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