Jöns Jakob Berzelius

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Jöns Jacob Berzelius (20 August 1779 – 7 August 1848) was a Swedish chemist. He worked out the modern technique of chemical formula notation, and is together with John Dalton, Antoine Lavoisier, and Robert Boyle considered a father of modern chemistry.[1] He began his career as a physician but his researches in physical chemistry were of lasting significance in the development of the subject. He achieved much in later life as secretary of the Swedish Academy. He is known in Sweden as the Father of Swedish Chemistry.



Berzelius was born at Väversunda in Östergötland in Sweden. He lost both his parents at an early age. He was taken care of by relatives in Linköping where he attended the school today known as Katedralskolan. Thereafter he enrolled at the Uppsala University where he learned the profession of medical doctor from 1796 to 1801. He was taught chemistry by Anders Gustaf Ekeberg, the discoverer of tantalum. He worked as apprentice in a pharmacy and with a physician in the Medevi mineral springs. During this time he conducted analysis of the spring water. For his medical studies he examined the influence of galvanic current on several diseases and graduated as M.D. in 1802. He worked as physician near Stockholm until the mine owner Wilhelm Hisinger discovered his analytical abilities and provided him with a laboratory.

In 1807 Berzelius was appointed professor in chemistry and pharmacy at the Karolinska Institute.

In 1808, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. At this time, the Academy had been stagnating for a number of years, since the era of romanticism in Sweden had led to less interest in the sciences. In 1818, Berzelius was elected the Academy's secretary, and held the post until 1848. During Berzelius' tenure, he is credited with revitalising the Academy and bringing it into a second golden era, the first being the astronomer Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin's period as secretary (1749-1783).[2] In 1837, he was also elected a member of the Swedish Academy, on chair number 5.

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