Torbern Olof Bergman

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
El principal motivo de su trabajo fue conseguir que los metodos de analisis de aguas de Torbern Bergman resultaran mas rapidos y sencillos.
To understand the interplay between culture and international relations, I have developed a concept I call "emotional elective affinity." Elective affinity is a term for chemical processes coined originally by the Swede Torbern Bergman. (8) According to the most prominent advocate of the concept, Max Weber, elective affinity signifies a noncausal process in which two sets of interests seek one another out and reinforce one another.
As Jeremy Adler has shown in his Eine fast magische Anziehungskraft (Munich: Beck, 1987), Goethe made good use of Torbern Bergman's theory of 'Elective Affinities', but to apply this theory to such vague concepts as those mentioned by Gorner waters down Goethe's skilful use of it.
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." One recent historian of chemistry wrote that Sage "became hopelessly entangled whenever he attempted to use wet methods of analysis." Other historians describe him as a "false scholar" (faux savant), and his scientific work as "totally without value."