Prout, William


Prout, William

▪ British chemist
born Jan. 15, 1785, Horton, Gloucestershire, Eng.
died April 9, 1850, London

      English chemist and biochemist noted for his discoveries concerning digestion, metabolic chemistry, and atomic weights.

      The son of a tenant farmer, Prout graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1811 with a medical degree. Thereafter he practiced as a successful physician, specializing in the treatment of urinary and digestive ailments. Prout's other career, as an experimentalist and theorist, was many-sided. Between 1815 and 1827 he published a number of papers that helped establish the barely explored areas of metabolic and physiological chemistry. He discovered that the gastric juices of animals contain significant amounts of hydrochloric acid. He was one of the first to extract pure urea from urine; he discovered uric acid in excrement; and he published a large and authoritative textbook on urinary and digestive pathology in 1840. Prout's classification of food components into water, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins was quickly adopted by his fellow biochemists.

      In 1815 Prout advanced the idea that the atomic weights of elements are whole-number multiples of the atomic weight of hydrogen (Prout's hypothesis). This theory proved highly fruitful for later investigations of atomic weights, atomic theory, and the classification of the elements. Prout's theory concerning the relative densities and weights of gases was in agreement with Avogadro's law (1811), which was not generally accepted until the 1850s.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Prout , William — (1785–1850) British chemist and physiologist Prout was born at Horton in England and studied medicine at Edinburgh, graduating in 1811. He established himself as a physician in London and became a pioneer of physiological chemistry, in which he… …   Scientists

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  • William Prout — FRS (January 15, 1785 ndash; April 9, 1850) was an English chemist, physician, and natural theologian. He is remembered today mainly for what is called Prout s hypothesis. Life and work Prout was born in Horton, Gloucestershire in 1785. His… …   Wikipedia

  • Prout's hypothesis — was an early 19th century attempt to explain the existence of the various chemical elements through a hypothesis regarding the internal structure of the atom. In 1815 [William Prout (1815). On the relation between the specific gravities of bodies …   Wikipedia


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