Arrhenius, Svante August (1859-1927)
Arrhenius, Svante August
Born: Wik near Uppsala (Sweden), 19 February 1859
Died: Stockholm (Sweden), 2 October 1927
Arrhenius was a brilliant student who learned to read at the age of three and graduated from secondary school as the youngest and brightest in his class. University studies in chemistry, physics and mathematics then followed in Uppsala where he also received his doctoral degree in 1884. His thesis on the galvanic conduction of electrolytes marked a breakthrough in chemistry because it explained the conductivity of the electrolytes by dissociation into positive and negative ions. This revolutionary theory was met with much opposition but became gradually accepted. The early proponents of the theory were W. Ostwald and J.H. vant Hoff who together with Arrhenius are considered as founders of modern physical chemistry. Arrhenius was rewarded in 1903 with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
In 1891 Arrhenius moved to the newly founded University of Stockholm where four years later his post was converted to a professorship in physics. In 1905 Arrhenius was appointed director of the Nobel Institute for Physical Chemistry in Stockholm. During his later years Arrhenius became increasingly interested in cosmic physics and the origin of life on earth. He suggested that life had begun when living spores had wandered through the empty space to earth. He was also one of the first scientists to study the influence of carbon dioxide on the earth’s temperature, which is now known as the "greenhouse effect".
"in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation"
Although this paper contains the standard chronological biography of Dr. Arrhenius, our goal is broader.