Theodor Svedberg

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Theodor Svedberg
Theodor Svedberg

(1884-08-30)30 August 1884
Died25 February 1971(1971-02-25) (aged 86)
Alma mater Uppsala University
Known for analytical ultracentrifugation
Colloid chemistry
Awards Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1926) [1]
Franklin Medal (1949)
Fellow of the Royal Society (1944) [2]
Björkénska priset (1913, 1923, 1926)
Scientific career
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions Uppsala University
Gustaf Werner Institute
Doctoral advisor Carl Benedicks, Oskar Widman [ citation needed ] doctoral_students = Arne Tiselius [3]

Theodor ("The") Svedberg (30 August 1884 – 25 February 1971) was a Swedish chemist and Nobel laureate for his research on colloids and proteins using the ultracentrifuge, active at Uppsala University.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Chemist scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and awarded by Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by Academy. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.


Early life and education

Theodor Svedberg was born in Gävleborg, Sweden. He was the son of Augusta Alstermark and Elias Svedberg. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1905, his master's degree in 1907, and in 1908, he earned his Ph.D. [4]


Svedberg's work with colloids supported the theories of Brownian motion put forward by Albert Einstein and the Polish geophysicist Marian Smoluchowski. During this work, he developed the technique of analytical ultracentrifugation, and demonstrated its utility in distinguishing pure proteins one from another. [2] [5]

Colloid A mixture of an insoluble substance microscopically dispersed throughout another substance

In chemistry, a colloid is a mixture in which one substance of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles is suspended throughout another substance. Sometimes the dispersed substance alone is called the colloid; the term colloidal suspension refers unambiguously to the overall mixture. Unlike a solution, whose solute and solvent constitute only one phase, a colloid has a dispersed phase and a continuous phase. To qualify as a colloid, the mixture must be one that does not settle or would take a very long time to settle appreciably.

Brownian motion the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid resulting from their collision with the quick atoms or molecules in the gas or liquid

Brownian motion or pedesis is the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid resulting from their collision with the fast-moving molecules in the fluid.

Albert Einstein German-born physicist and developer of the theory of relativity

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.

Awards and honours

The unit svedberg (symbol S), a unit of time amounting to 10−13 s or 100 fs, is named after him, as well as the Svedberg Laboratory in Uppsala. [6]

Svedberg unit of time

A Svedberg unit is a non-metric unit for sedimentation coefficient. The Svedberg unit (S) offers a measure of a particle's size based on its sedimentation rate, i.e. how fast a particle of given size and shape 'settles' to the bottom of a solution. The Svedberg is actually a measure of time; it is defined as exactly 10−13 seconds (100 fs).

A femtosecond is the SI unit of time equal to 10−15 or 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 of a second; that is, one quadrillionth, or one millionth of one billionth, of a second. For context, a femtosecond is to a second as a second is to about 31.71 million years; a ray of light travels approximately 0.3 µm (micrometers) in 1 femtosecond, a distance comparable to the diameter of a virus.

Svedberg's candidacy for the Royal Society reads:

"distinguished for his work in physical and colloid chemistry and the development of the ultracentrifuge" [7]

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  1. Svedberg's Nobel Foundation biography
  2. 1 2 Claesson, S.; Pedersen, K. O. (1972). "The Svedberg 1884-1971". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society . 18: 594. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1972.0022.
  3. Tiselius, Arne (1972). "Reflections from both sides of the counter". Annual Review of Biochemistry . 37: 1–23. doi:10.1146/ PMID   4875715.
  4. "The Svedberg Biography". Nobelprize. Nobel Media AB 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  5. Kyle, R. A.; Shampo, M. A. (1997). "Theodor Svedberg and the ultracentrifuge". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 72 (9): 830. doi:10.4065/72.9.830. PMID   9294529.
  6. "TSL - The Svedberg Laboratory".
  7. "Proposal for Foreign Membership, Ref No. EC/1944/24". London: The Royal Society Archives. Retrieved 2018-09-03.