Svante August Arrhenius was born on February 19, 1859, the son of Svante Gustaf Arrhenius and Carolina Christina Thunberg. His ancestors were farmers; his uncle became Professor of Botany and Rector of the Agricultural High School at Ultuna near Uppsala and later Secretary of The Swedish Academy of Agriculture. The boy was educated at the Cathedral school where the rector was a good physics teacher. From an early age Svante had shown an aptitude for arithmetical calculations, and at school he was greatly interested in mathematics and physics. In 1876 he entered the University of Uppsala, studying mathematics, chemistry and physics. The practical instruction in physics was not of the best, and in 1881 he went to Stockholm to work under Professor E. Edlund at the Academy of Sciences. In 1895 he became Professor of Physics in Stockholms Högskola. He was in addition Rector from 1897 to 1905, when he retired from the professorship. He had got an invitation to a professorship in Berlin, and the Academy of Sciences then decided (1905) to start a Nobel Institute for Physical Chemistry with Arrhenius as its chief. He took a lively interest in various branches of physics, as illustrated by his theory of the importance of the CO2-content of the atmosphere for the climate, his discussion of the possibility that radiation pressure might enable the spreading of living spores through the universe (panspermy) and by his various contributions to our knowledge of the northern lights. In 1903 appeared his Lehrbuch der kosmischen Physik(Textbook of cosmic physics). In the last decades of his life he published a number of popular books, which were usually translated into several languages and appeared in numerous editions. Arrhenius was elected a Foreign member of the Royal Society in 1911, and was awarded the Society's Davy medal and also the Faraday Medal of the Chemical Society (1914). Among the many tokens of distinction that he received were honorary degrees...
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