Who is the father of chemistry

    Jöns Jakob Berzelius (* August 20, 1779 in Väversunda, Östergötland; † August 7, 1848 in Stockholm) was a Swedish chemist. He is considered the father of modern chemistry.

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Jöns Jakob Berzelius lost his father at the age of four. From 1796 he studied medicine at Uppsala University, where he wrote a thesis on the 1802 Effects of Galvanic Electricity on Patients made, which, however, showed no practical use.

He gained his first chemical experience by analyzing mineral water. This led to an unpaid position at the College of Medicine in Stockholm, where he lived in the house of Wilhelm Hisinger, a wealthy scientific amateur, and carried out electrochemical studies with him. However, Berzelius later complained that Humphry Davy had the most benefit from this. In 1807 he became professor of medicine and pharmacy in Stockholm and began his extensive research on chemical compounds. In 1808 he became a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. In 1835 he became a baron.

In 1815 he got a professorship for chemistry at the Karolinska Institutet, which he held until 1832. There he achieved mastery in all of the chemical disciplines of that time. In 1818 he published a table of atomic weights, founded chemical elemental analysis and introduced the symbol notation for empirical formulas in chemistry, which is still used today: The elements are formed by the first letter or two of the element's Latin name, e.g .:

Berzelius introduced basic terms in organic chemistry and coined the terms allotropy, isomerism and catalyst, among other things. He was in charge of the development of new - now classic - techniques and analysis devices (water bath, desiccator, filter paper, etc.). In addition, the determination of the atomic weight and the discovery of the elements cerium (1803), selenium (1817), lithium (also 1817, together with Johan August Arfwedson) and thorium (1828) go back to him. He discovered or investigated whole classes of compounds such as hydrofluoric acid, platinum metals, tantalum, molybdenum, vanadium, tellurium, sulfur salts and others. His experiments on electrolysis in different solutions led him to his electrochemical theory, according to which chemical compounds consist of two electrically differently charged components. He classified the minerals, which were previously classified according to their external properties, according to their chemical composition. Attempting to extend electrochemical theory to organic compounds led to the theory of radicals (a group of atoms that can function as a unit).

Berzelius was a consistent empiricist and always based his theoretical work on carefully carried out experimental investigations. He published more than 250 writings, his Lärebok i kemien (Chemistry textbook), which has been translated into many languages, had a decisive influence on the development of chemistry in the 19th century.

As a personality, Berzelius has been described as very temperamental, if not easily irritable. He worked closely with his former student Friedrich Wöhler.

In 1805 he was in the Masonic Lodge St. John's Lodge St. Erik Admitted to the Freemasons Association in Stockholm[1]


  • De electricitatis galvanicae apparatu ce. volta excitae in corpora organica effect. 1802. (Scanned available online.)