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Bicentenary of Scheele (1742–1786)

    Naturevolume 150page732 (1942) | Download Citation



    THE bicentenary of the birth of the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, whose recently published manuscripts were reviewed in our columns on November 7, falls on December 19. His birthplace was Stralsund, in Pomerania, then a Swedish province, but he was trained as a pharmacist in Gothenburg. Here he remained until the age of twenty-three, studying the works of Stahl, Lèmery, Kunckel and Neumann and for ever experimenting. From Gothenburg he went to Malmö, then to Stockholm and Uppsala, where he met Gahn and secured the friendship of Bergmann. At last in 1775, at the age of thirty-three, he was officially appointed apothecary at the little town of Köping on the western shore of Lake Malar. His death took place at Köping on May 19, 1786, when he was only forty-three. Among a crowd of original discoveries those relating to chlorine, manganese and oxygen are the best known. His papers were printed mainly in the Transactions of the Royal Academy of Stockholm. Dr. Beddoes translated his “Chemical Essays” in 1786 and a reprint of this was published in 1901. This was reviewed in NATURE of November 7, 1901, the reviewer remarking then, “The strict fidelity to experiment, the rare sagacity, the scrupulous and minute observation and the extraordinary experimental skill combine to make Scheele a model for all time. When we add to this the pathos of his early struggles, the simplicity of his blameless life and the nobility of his untimely death, there can be no wonder that Scheele is reckoned a hero among chemists”.

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