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July 12, 1965


JAMA. 1965;193(2):153-154. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090020067021

Following Lavoisier and others in the transition of scientific thought from alchemy to chemistry, Jons Berzelius dominated chemistry in the first half of the 19th century. Geographic isolation in Sweden was no deterrent to social and scientific intercourse with contemporaries of stature in neighboring countries, and, to the envy of others, he made singular advances in chemistry with apparent ease. The son of a school principal in Linköping, Berzelius was born in 1779 at Wäfversunda, where his family spent their vacations. Before he was ten his parents had died, and thereafter he lived with step-parents and relatives in circumstances that lacked the security and amenities of a stable home.1 An early interest in the natural sciences led him into medicine, and, with the help of a medical scholarship and tutoring, he qualified for and received, with distinction, the MD degree at Upsala. His graduation thesis discussed galvanic current apparatus