1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bergman, Torbern Olof

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BERGMAN, TORBERN OLOF (1735–1784), Swedish chemist and naturalist, was born at Katrineberg, Vestergötland, Sweden, on the 20th of March 1735. At the age of seventeen he entered the university of Upsala. His father wished him to read either law or divinity, while he himself was anxious to study mathematics and natural science; in the effort to please both himself and his father he overworked himself and injured his health. During a period of enforced abstinence from study, he amused himself with field botany and entomology, to such good purpose that he was able to send Linnaeus specimens of several new kinds of insects, and in 1756 he succeeded in proving that, contrary to the opinion of that naturalist, Coccus aquaticus was really the ovum of a kind of leech. In 1758, having returned to Upsala, he graduated there, and soon afterwards began to teach mathematics and physics at the university, publishing papers on the rainbow, the aurora, the pyroelectric phenomena of tourmaline, &c. In 1767 Johann Gottschalck Wallerius (1709–1785) having resigned the chair of chemistry and mineralogy, Bergman determined to become a candidate, though he had paid no particular attention to chemistry. As evidence of his attainments he produced a memoir on the manufacture of alum, but his pretensions were strongly opposed, and it was only through the influence of Gustavus III., then crown prince and chancellor of the university, that he gained the appointment, which he held till the end of his life. He died at Medevi on Lake Vetter on the 8th of July 1784. Bergman’s most important chemical paper is his Essay on Elective Attractions (1775), a study of chemical affinity. In methods of chemical analysis, both by the blowpipe and in the wet way, he effected many improvements, and he made considerable contributions to mineralogical and geological chemistry, and to crystallography. He also made observations of the transit of Venus in 1761, and published a Physical Description of the Earth in 1766.

His works were collected and printed in 6 vols. as Opuscula Physica et Chemica in 1779–1790, and were translated into French, German and English.