Svante Arrhenius received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Svante Arrhenius was one of the most important scientists of his time. His electrolytical dissociation theory came to completely change chemists’ conception of acids, bases and salts. Electrolytical dissociation means that compounds fall apart into electrically charged ions, for example, when ordinary rock salt is dissolved in water into natrium and chloral ions. Thus, solutions can work as electrolytes and be carriers of electric current.

Thanks to Svante Arrhenius’ theory, a number of mysterious chemical and physical phenomena could be explained and be described in a simpler and more homogeneous way than previously. Even though his theory has been modified in the twentieth century, it still remains a major discovery within chemistry. Yet, Svante Arrhenius’ most important contribution might be the so-called Arrhenius equation, which formulates the connection between how quickly there is a reaction and the energy that must be supplied for it to occur. This connection is of fundamental importance for the understanding of how chemical reactions really occur. Svante Arrhenius was also one of the very first to make the connection between the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global temperature – what we today call the greenhouse effect.

Svante Arrhenius began his studies in Uppsala. The theories he developed in his doctoral dissertation were first treated with such scepticism that he passed with the lowest possible grade. After some time, his theories were revaluated, however, and he was employed as a lecturer at Stockholms University College in 1891. He soon became Professor of Physics here and was also Vice-Chancellor of Stockholm University College for seven years. Today, his name lives on in the Arrhenius laboratory, which houses many of the scientific departments at Stockholm University.