1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arrhenius, Svante August

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ARRHENIUS, SVANTE AUGUST (1859–), Swedish physicist and chemist, was born on the 19th of February 1859, at Schloss Wijk, near Upsala. He studied at Upsala from 1876 to 1881 and at Stockholm from 1881 to 1884, then returning to Upsala as privat-docent in physical chemistry. He spent two years from 1886 to 1888 in travelling, and visited Riga Polytechnic and the universities of Würzburg, Graz, Amsterdam and Leipzig. In 1891 he was appointed lecturer in physics at Stockholm and four years later became full professor. Arrhenius is specially associated with the development of the theory of electrolytic dissociation, and his great paper on the subject, Recherches sur la conductibilité galvanique des électrolytes—(1) conductibilité galvanique des solutions aqueuses extrêmement diluées, (2) théorie chimique des électrolytes, was presented to the Stockholm Academy of Sciences in 1883. He was subsequently continuously engaged in extending the applications of the doctrine of electrolytic conduction in relation not only to the problems of chemical action but also, on the supposition that in certain conditions the air conducts electrolytically, to the phenomena of atmospheric electricity. In 1900 he published a Lärobok i teoretik elektrokemi, which was translated into German and English, and his Lehrbuch der kosmischen Physik appeared in 1903. In 1904 he delivered at the university of California a course of lectures, the object of which was to illustrate the application of the methods of physical chemistry to the study of the theory of toxins and antitoxins, and which were published in 1907 under the title Immunochemistry. In his Worlds in the Making (1908), an English translation of Das Werden der Welten (1907), he combated the generally accepted doctrine that the universe is tending to what Clausius termed Wärmetod through exhaustion of all sources of heat and motion, and suggested that by virtue of a mechanism which maintains its available energy it is self-renovating, energy being “degraded” in bodies which are in the solar state, but “elevated” or raised to a higher level in bodies which are in the nebular state. He further put forward the conception that life is universally diffused, constantly emitted from all habitable worlds in the form of spores which traverse space for years or ages, the majority being ultimately destroyed by the heat of some blazing star, but some few finding a resting-place on bodies which have reached the habitable stage.