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Svante Arrhenius

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Overview


Svante August Arrhenius (February 19, 1859 - October 2, 1927) was a Swedish scientist, originally a physicist, but often referred to as a chemist, and one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry. The Arrhenius equation, lunar crater Arrhenius and the Arrhenius Labs at Stockholm University are named after him.

In 1904 he delivered at the University of California a course of lectures, the object of which was to illustrate the application of the methods of physical chemistry to the study of the theory of toxins and antitoxins, and which were published in 1907 under the title Immunochemistry.

Arrhenius developed a theory to explain the ice ages, and in 1896 he was the first scientist to speculate that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. He was influenced by the work of others, including Joseph Fourier. Arrhenius used the infrared observations of the moon by Frank Washington Very and Samuel Pierpont Langley at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh to calculate the absorption of infrared radiation by atmospheric CO2 and water vapour. Using 'Stefan's law' (better known as the Stefan Boltzmann law), he formulated his greenhouse law. In its original form, Arrhenius' greenhouse law reads as follows:

if the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.
This simplified expression is still used today:
ΔF = α ln(C/C0)


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