Torbern Olof Bergman

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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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Elective affinity is a term for chemical processes coined originally by the Swede Torbern Bergman.
Pierre Macquer, the dean of French chemists, wrote to Torbern Bergman that Sage "totally lacks a gift for chemistry and does not understand that science at all.