Torbern Bergman

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In existographies, Torbern Bergman (220-171 AE) (1735-1784 ACM) (IQ:180|#171) (PR:13,206|65AE / chemist:202) (Partington 50:31) (GCE:24) (CR:210) (LH:10) (TL:221|#36) was a Swedish chemist, noted for []


In 1775, Bergman, in his Dissertation on Elective Attractions, building on the reaction bracket { logic of William Cullen (1757), produced a 59-row 50-column affinity table, the biggest one ever made[1], as well as reaction schematic diagram, depicting 64 reactions[2], involving 59 chemical species[3], each of the general format, wherein vertical brackets are reactants and horizontal brackets are products, and wherein the Cullen affinity dart is removed:[4]

Bergman reaction scheme.png

explaining single elective affinity and double elective affinity reactions in pictorial form, including “heated” (Δ) reactions and reactions in “water” (∇), and also introduce letter symbols for both single and attached chemical species, as in A, B, a, b, abd, abcd, etc, the forerunner notations to modern chemical equations.[5]



Bergman was influenced by Carl Linnaeus, his teacher.


Bergman influenced: Goethe.


Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Bergman:

“The moral symbols in the natural sciences—for example that of the elective affinities invented and used by the great Bergman—are more intelligent and permit themselves to be connected better with poetry, even connected with society better than any others, which are, after all, even the mathematical ones, anthropomorphic. The thing is that the former (the chemicals) belong with the emotions, the latter (mathematics) belong with the understanding.”
Johann Goethe (1809), “Comment to Friedrich Riemer”, Jul 24

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Bergman:

“Imagine we have a substance A which heterogeneous substances a, b, c attract: Suppose, moreover, that A combines with c to saturation point, which we designate as the ‘binding’ of A and of c = Ac, b tends to bind when added, and separates from c. Then we say that A attracts b more strongly than c does, or that b has a stronger elective attraction than c. Suppose, finally, that Ab is decomposed by the addition of a, that b is separated, and that a takes its place, it will follow that the attractive force of a exceeds that of b and that of the series a, b, c, etc. will be exactly the order of strength of the attractive forces of these three substances.”
— Torbern Bergman (1775), A Dissertation on Elective Attractions (pg. #); cited by Xavier Duran (2012) in “Goethe and the Affinity Between Chemistry and Literature” (pg. 31)[6]

End matter


  1. Bergman affinity table – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. Bergman reaction diagrams – Hmolpedia 2020.
  3. Bergman chemical signs explained – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. History of chemical equations – Hmolpedia 2020.
  5. A Dissertation on Elective Attractions – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Duran, Xavier. (2012). “Goethe and the Affinity Between Chemistry and Literature: Molecules and Divorce in a Romantic Novel” (pdf), Metode Annual Review, 27-31.

Further reading

External links

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