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Artturi Virtanen

Artturi VirtanenAKA Artturi Ilmari Virtanen

Born: 15-Jan-1895
Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland
Died: 11-Nov-1973
Location of death: Helsinki, Finland
Cause of death: Infection

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Finland
Executive summary: AIV method of fodder preservation

Finnish chemist Artturi Virtanen studied under Hans von Euler-Chelpin and developed a new method of fodder (cattle feed) preservation in 1932. After storing greens, stalks, and grain in a delicately balanced mixture of hydrochloric and sulfuric acid with specific pH (acidity or alkalinity) factor, his experiments showed that cattle that grazed on fodder stored through his system produced milk that was indistinguishable, chemically and in vitamin content, from the milk produced by cattle fed fresh grain, hay, and plants. For developing this silage preservation system, still called the AIV methods for his initials, Virtanen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1945.

He developed a similar system for preserving butter through chemistry and enhancing the pH factor through additional salt, which made Finnish butter an international delicacy and sped his nation's economic recovery after World War II. He also showed that enzymes in uncooked foods interact with other substances, notably the enzymes of the body itself, during the digestion process, and during World War II he developed a gasoline bomb used with great success against armored military vehicles.

He had seven brothers, four of whom died in childhood. Using chemistry to research the cause of his brothers' death, Virtanen determined that they probably died of a deficiency of vitamin A, brought about because his family was poor and his parents purchased only fat-free milk. Despite his celebrity in Finland he never owned an automobile, and never smoked or drank. After retiring from academia he worked a farm, and died at the age of 78 when an infection set into his broken hip.

Father: Kaarlo Virtanen
Mother: Serafiina Isotalo
Wife: Lilja Moisio (botanist, m. 1920, two sons)
Son: Kaarlo Virtanen (mathematician, b. 1921)
Son: Olavi Virtanen (chemist, b. 1931)

    High School: Viipuri Classical Grammar School, Viipuri, Finland
    University: MS, University of Helsinki (1916)
    University: DSc, University of Helsinki (1919)
    Scholar: Physical Chemistry, University of Zurich (1919-20)
    Scholar: Bacteriology, University of Stockholm (1920-21)
    Scholar: Enzymology, University of Stockholm (1923-24)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, University of Helsinki (1924-31)
    Professor: Biochemistry, University of Helsinki (1931-48)
    Administrator: Biochemical Research Institute, University of Helsinki (1931-48)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1945
    Finnish Academy of Science and Arts President, 1948
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society of Edinburgh Foreign Member
    Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Foreign Member
    Finnish Cooperative Dairies Association Laboratory Director, 1921-31
    Asteroid Namesake 1449 Virtanen
    Lunar Crater Virtanen (15.5 N, 176.7 E, 44 km. diameter)

Author of books:
AIV System as the Basis of Cattle Feeding (1943, agriculture)

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