Jöns Jacob Berzelius

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Jöns Jacob Berzelius (Väversunda (Sweden) 20 Aug 1779 - Stockholm, 7 Aug 1848) was a Swedish chemist and naturalist. He is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry. In 1796 he started a medical study at the University of Uppsala and in 1802 he defended his thesis.

Berzelius on catalysis

In 1836 Berzelius wrote:

This new force, which was unknown until now, is common to organic and inorganic nature. I do not believe that this is a force entirely independent of the electrochemical affinities of matter; I believe, on the contrary, that it is only a new manifestation, but since we cannot see their connection and mutual dependence, it will be easier to designate it by a separate name. I will call this force catalytic force. Similarly, I will call the decomposition of bodies by this force catalysis, as one designates the decomposition of bodies by chemical affinity analysis. [1]


  1. J. J. Berzelius, Some Ideas on a New Force which Acts in Organic Compounds, Annales chimie physiques, 1836, vol. 61, 146–151. Translated in Henry M. Leicester and Herbert S. Klickstein, A Source Book in Chemistry 1400-1900 (1952), p. 267. Google books