The Shy Angel who missed the Nobel Prize
Angelo (Angel, in English) Angeli (1864-1931) was one of the greatest organic chemists that Italy ever had. It is widely held – in retrospect – that the Austrian-born-Italian chemist should have been selected for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was nominated several times, but was never awarded the prize.
The University of Florence had on its faculty two supreme chemists: the German Hugo Schiff (1834-1915), and Angelo Angeli, who was born in Tarcento (the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) on August 20th 1864. Neither Schiff nor Angeli was able to cultivate a scientific “nursery” and neither of them created a “school” in the modern sense of the term. Thus, it is difficult to imagine that a series of experiments performed almost a century ago, which today might appear as astonishingly simple as carefully opening an egg, would shake the very foundations of the discipline and open the door to the era of modern organic-chemistry.
Angeli developed a great passion for chemistry early in life. While still a child, he started to perform experiments with his maternal uncle, Giovanni Carnelutti (1850-1901), an industrial chemist. Angeli attended the Technical Institute of Udine and later moved to the Technische Hochschule (Polytechnic) of Vienna, but he soon went to the University of Padua where he met Stanislao Cannizzaro (1826-1910) and Giacomo Ciamician (1857-1922). The latter recognized that Angeli had a keen and acute intelligence. In 1 ...