Fritz Haber (1868-1934)
Haber raced joyfully through the chemistry building shouting, "You have to see how liquid ammonia is pouring out.", "Come down, there's ammonia!"
... By making "bread out of air," Haber freed Germany from its dependence on imported fertilizer.
The Haber-Bosch process is also an example of the complex impact of chemistry upon life. At the start of World War I, Germany was dependent upon the natural nitrate deposits of Chile for the nitrogen compounds required to manufacture explosives. The Allied blockade of South American ports soon cut off this supply. Had it not been for the alternative source of nitrogen compounds provided by the direct synthesis of ammonia, Germany most likely would have been forced to surrender several years before 1918. By prolonging the war, the Haber-Bosch process indirectly cost thousands of lives. However, over the years, the fertilizer produced by the same process has increased crop yields around the globe and spared millions from starvation.