Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peter Waage

Peter Waage was born on June 29, 1832 on the island Hidra, near Flekkefjord in Norway. His father, also named Peter, was a ship-master and owner so he was often away from home and Waage was raised and taught by his mother, Regine. Waage learned to read by age four and spent his youth collecting minerals, plants, and insects. He graduated high school in Christiana and began studying medicine at the university. After his first division he switched to chemistry. in 1858 Waage won the Crown Prince's Gold Medal for a paper he wrote about oxygen containing organic acids and he earned his doctorate in 1859. After graduating Waage won a scholarship to study in France and Germany, Waage as appointed as a lecturer in 1861 and professor of chemistry in 1866 at the University of Kristiana.

Waage is most remembered for his discovery, with his brother-in-law Otto Guldberg, of the law of mass action. The law of mass action says that the rate of a chemical reaction is proportional to the concentration of the chemical reacting. For the chemical reaction A + B --> AB the rate of the reaction is =k[A][B], where [A] and [B] are the concentrations of the reactants A and B and k is the the rate constant. The rate constant, k, varies depending on what the reaction is. Waage and Guldberg also studied the effects of temperature on chemical reactions. Because their paper was published in Norwegian it was largely unnoticed. The paper was later published in French and German and gained wide acceptance when the results were repeated by William Esson and Vernon Harcourt of Oxford University.

Waage and Guldberg were brother-in-laws twice over. Waage and Guldberg married sisters and after Waage's first wife died he married Guldberg's sister. Waage also discovered ways of preparing unsweetened condensed milk and sterile canned milk. Waage developed a condensed fish meal used as rations by the Norwegian Navy.

Waage died on January 13, 1900.


Albe, Joseph and Smith, Michelle; "Otto Guldberg and Peter Wage";

Ringnes, Vivi; "Peter Wage"; Retrived from

Peter Wage Wikipedia Entry

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating blog and a wonderful source of information. Many thanks.