Bergman, Torbern Olof

Bergman, Torbern Olof

(to͝or`bərn o͞o`lôv bĕr`yəmän), 1735–84, Swedish chemist, physicist, and mineralogist. A professor at the Univ. of Uppsala from 1758, he developed a theory of chemical affinity, made improvements in the methods of chemical analysis and in the classification of rocks, and did important research in crystallography. He wrote A Dissertation on Elective Attractions (1775, tr. 1785). His collected works, Essays, Physical and Chemical, appeared in six volumes (1779–81, tr. 1791).

Bergman, Torbern Olof


Born Mar. 20, 1735, in Ka-trineberg; died July 8,1784, in Medevi. Swedish chemist and mineralogist.

Bergman graduated from the University of Uppsala, where he was a teacher of mathematics and physics from 1758 and a professor of chemistry and mineralogy from 1767. He developed a systematic approach to qualitative analysis. He perfected this analysis through the use of a blowpipe; he also made considerable use of weight analysis. Bergman discovered a number of minerals and classified them in terms of their chemical composition. He advanced a mechanistic theory of selective chemical affinity. Mistakenly assuming that in any given situation the affinity between two substances remains constant and does not depend on the relative masses of the reacting substances, Bergman composed tables of chemical affinity, which were used until the beginning of the 19th century.


Opuscula physica et chemica. . . , vols. 1–6. Stockholm [and elsewhere], 1779–90.


Blokh, M. A. “Torbern Bergman.” In Akademiku V. I. Vernad-skomu: K 50-letiiu nauchnoi i pedagogicheskoi deiatel’nosti, vol. 2. Moscow, 1936.
Partington, J. R. A History of Chemistry, vol. 3. New York, 1962. Pages 179–99.
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