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Jöns Jacob Berzelius

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– Born on August 10, 1779, in Väversunda, Sweden
– Parents were Samuel Berzelius and Elizabeth Dorothea Sjösteen
– Lost both parents at a young age
– Educated at Katedralskolan in Linköping
– Studied at Uppsala University from 1796 to 1801

**Academic Career:**
– Appointed professor at the Karolinska Institute in 1807
– Collaborated with Anna Sundström, the first female chemist in Sweden
– Elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808
– Served as the Academy’s secretary from 1818 to 1848
– Became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1822

**Temperance Movement:**
– Active member of the temperance movement
– Co-founder of the Swedish Temperance Society in 1837
– Served as the first chairman of the society
– Engaged with other notable figures in the movement
– Wrote the foreword to a work on temperance by Carl af Ekenstam

**Later Life and Health:**
– Suffered from migraine headaches and gout
– Experienced episodes of depression
– Had a nervous breakdown in 1818
– Struggled with health issues throughout his life
– Managed to continue his scientific work despite health challenges

**Contributions to Chemistry:**
– Known for determining atomic weights
– Discovered cerium, selenium, and isolated silicon and thorium
– Developed a system of chemical formula notation
– Articulated the differences between inorganic and organic compounds
– Pioneered the theory of electrochemical dualism
– Originated terms like catalysis, polymer, isomer, protein, and allotrope

Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius (Swedish: [jœns ˈjɑ̌ːkɔb bæˈʂěːlɪɵs] (20 August 1779 – 7 August 1848) was a Swedish chemist. In general, he is considered the last person to know the whole field of chemistry. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary. He is known in Sweden as the "Father of Swedish Chemistry". During his lifetime he did not customarily use his first given name, and was universally known simply as Jacob Berzelius.

Jacob Berzelius
Jöns Jacob Berzelius

(1779-08-10)10 August 1779
Väversunda, Östergötland, Sweden
Died7 August 1848(1848-08-07) (aged 68)
Alma materUppsala University
Known forAtomic weights
Chemical notation
AwardsCopley medal (1836)
Scientific career
InstitutionsKarolinska Institute
Doctoral advisorJohann Afzelius
Doctoral studentsJames Finlay Weir Johnston
Heinrich Rose
Friedrich Wöhler
Member of the Swedish Academy
(Seat No. 5)
In office
20 December 1837 – 7 August 1848
Preceded byCarl von Rosenstein
Succeeded byJohan Erik Rydqvist

Although Berzelius began his career as a physician, his enduring contributions were in the fields of electrochemistry, chemical bonding and stoichiometry. In particular, he is noted for his determination of atomic weights and his experiments that led to a more complete understanding of the principles of stoichiometry, which is the branch of chemistry pertaining to the quantitative relationships between elements in chemical compounds and chemical reactions and that these occur in definite proportions. This understanding came to be known as the "Law of Constant Proportions".

Berzelius was a strict empiricist, expecting that any new theory must be consistent with the sum of contemporary chemical knowledge. He developed improved methods of chemical analysis, which were required to develop the basic data in support of his work on stoichiometry. He investigated isomerism, allotropy, and catalysis, phenomena that owe their names to him. Berzelius was among the first to articulate the differences between inorganic compounds and organic compounds. Among the many minerals and elements he studied, he is credited with discovering cerium and selenium, and with being the first to isolate silicon and thorium. Following on his interest in mineralogy, Berzelius synthesized and chemically characterized new compounds of these and other elements.

Berzelius demonstrated the use of an electrochemical cell to decompose certain chemical compounds into pairs of electrically opposite constituents. From this research, he articulated a theory that came to be known as electrochemical dualism, contending that chemical compounds are oxide salts, bonded together by electrostatic interactions. This theory, while useful in some contexts, came to be seen as insufficient. Berzelius's work with atomic weights and his theory of electrochemical dualism led to his development of a modern system of chemical formula notation that showed the composition of any compound both qualitatively and quantitatively. His system abbreviated the Latin names of the elements with one or two letters and applied superscripts to designate the number of atoms of each element present in the compound. Later, chemists changed to use of subscripts rather than superscripts.

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