Peter Waage & Cato Guldberg




 The discovery of chemical kinetics, also known as reaction kinetics, was founded by both Cato Guldberg and Peter Waage. Chemical kinetics is the study of rates of chemical processes. It includes investigations on how different experimental conditions can influence the speed of a chemical reaction. Guldberg and Waage were not only friends while they were discovering chemical kinetics, but they were also becoming related.

            Cato Maximilan Guldberg was born on August 11, 1836 in Christiania, Norway. He was the oldest of nine children of Carl Guldberg (minister and bookstore & printing office owner), and Hanna Guldberg. There was no satisfactory education for Cato in Christiania, so he at the age of 13, he was sent to live with his grandmother in Fredrikstad. There he attended a secondary school excelling in mathematics, but the school could not grant admission certificates to the university, so once again Cato went back to Christiania. On his return he spent his last years of secondary education at a private Latin school. Guldberg entered the University of Christiania in 1854, which happened to be the same year as his close friend Peter Waage. Cato and Peter along with a number of other fellow students the went to school with founded a small, informal club to discuss chemistry and physics problems. Guldberg majored in mathematics and prepared for secondary examinations in physics and chemistry. He worked independently on his advanced mathematical problems, and his first published scientific article, "On the Contact of Circles" (published in 1861), which won the Crown Prince's Gold Medal in 1859. Later that year he graduated and became a teacher at Nissen’s secondary school in Christiania. In 1861 he made a one-year study tour of France, Switzerland, and Germany by means of a scholarship. On his return he became Professor of Applied Mechanics in 1862 and then professor at the Royal Military College the following year. He was awarded a scholarship at the Univeristy of Christiania, where he became another professor of Applied Mathematics in 1869.Guldberg married his cousin Bodil Riddervold and had three daughters together. In 1869 he developed the concept of "corresponding temperatures" and derived an equation of state valid for all liquids of certain types. In 1890, he formulated the rule (Guldberg's rule) that the reduced boiling temperatures of most liquids are close to 2/3. Guldberg served three terms as Chairman of the Polytechnical Society (1866- 68, 1869-72, 1874-75), was an active member and officer of many scientific societies and commisions, and received several domestic and foreign honors. He also served as co-editor (1860-61) and Editor-in- Chief (1863-73) of Polyteknisk Tidsskrift, a journal devoted mainly to applications of science. Cato Guldberg then died on January 14, 1902.

            Peter Waage was born on June 29, 1833. He was the son of shipmaster and ship owner Peter Pedersen Waage and Regine Lovise Wattne Waage, on the island of Hitter near Flekkefjord, Norway. Peter was raised on the island where his father lived as a seaman for centuries. Due to his father usually being at sea, he was raised mainly by his mother who taught him to read by the age of four. Waage's first regular schooling began at Flekkefjord when he was 11. The school principal persuaded him to prepare to attend the University of Christiania by entering the fourth year of the Bergen Grammar School in 1849. He passed his matriculation examination cum laudabilis for the University of Christiania in 1854, the same year as Cato Maximilian Guldberg. Waage studied medicine during his first three years at the university but switched to mineralogy and chemistry in 1857. He was awarded the Crown Prince's Gold Medal for his paper, "Development of the Theory of the Oxygen-Containing Acid Radicals," which appeared in 1859. That same year his book, Outline of Crystallography, which he coauthored with H. Mohn came out. After graduating in 1859, Waage was awarded a scholarship in chemistry, enabling him to make a year's study tour of France and Germany the following spring. He was appointed Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Christiania in 1861, and in 1866 he was promoted to Professor of the only chair of chemistry at the university. Waage marrie Bodil’s sister Johanne RIddervold and had five children together. (Bodil is Guldberg’d wife) Later after Peter Waage’s wife Johanne died in 1869, he became Guldberg’s brother-in-law a second time by now marrying one of Guldberg’s sisters, Mathilde in 1870. They both then had six children together. Peter Waage discovered the methods for producing unsweetened condensed milk and sterilized canned milk. He also developed an excellent, highly concentrated fish meal used on Norwegian ships and expeditions. Beer was then taxed according to the amount of malt used in its brewing, but Waage proposed that it be taxed according to its alcoholic content, and he developed a new method for determining this concentration by measuring the boiling point. Peter Waage then died in Christiania on January 13 1900.

            Cato Guldberg and Peter Waage’s names aren’t just connected because of their family relations, but primarily for their join discovery of the law of mass action. Chemical Kinetics was introduced in 1864 by Waage and Guldberg. Chemical kinetics is the study of rates of chemical processes. It includes investigations of how different experimental conditions can influence the speed of a chemical reaction. They came about the development of chemical kinetics by formulating the law of mass action. The law of mass action states that the speed of a chemical reaction is proportional to the quantity of the reacting substance. They found thatin chemical kinetics there are factors of reaction rate, nature of the reactants, physical state, concentration, temperature, catalysts, pressure, equilibrium, free energy, and applications. Waage presented their findings to the Division of Science of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on March 14, 1864, where it produced little response. It still failed to attract attention even after it was published the following year in Norwegian in the academy’s journal. Their theory did not become generally known until 1877 when a German chemist, Wilhelm Ostwald published an article that adopted the law of mass action and proved its validity by his own experiments. Waage and Guldberg published their work again for a third time in the German journal, Annalen der Chemie and in German and were finally mentioned for in 1884.

            Chemical kinetics is extremely important in our world. Without the discovery of Peter Waage and Cato Guldberg we wouldn’t be able to know how quickly a medicine is able to work in the medical field. We would of never been able to find out if the formation and depletion of the ozone in the upper atmosphere is in balance. We also would have industrial problems. Some of them being the development of catalysts in order to synthesize new materials. The list can go on and on for how chemical kinetics is such a help worldwide. We can now determine how quickly food spoils, or even figure the rate at which fuels burns in an automobile engine. Waage and Guldberg’s discovery of chemical kinetics (reaction kinetics) and the law of mass actions was defiantly a huge importance to increasing our world’s knowledge.