Jöns Jacob Berzelius is Sweden’s most famous chemist and is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry, alongside Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier. He is best known for developing the modern system of chemical formula notation in the early 19th century; he is the reason the symbol for water is H2O, oxygen is O2, and so on.
This chemical notation proved so useful because it shows the electrochemical ingredients as well as the proportions of the ingredients. But it just one among many contributions Berzelius made to the field, including his influential electrochemical theory and discovering several elements.
Berzelius worked with various chemicals for all of his life, which took a toll on his body and mind over the years. This prolonged exposure eventually bound him to a wheelchair and affected his memory during the last months of his life. He died in 1848 at age 68.
Today, Berzelius’ work is so fundamental and widespread that he often doesn’t get credited for it—much like how Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev is hardly mentioned when we talk about his periodic table. But this is not true in Sweden, where the country is very proud of the man and honors his memory in many ways. The largest tribute to Berzelius is his namesake park in Stockholm, where you’ll find a large statue of the chemist at the center.
Know Before You Go
The park is open to the public 24 hours a day every day.