Walther Nernst

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

Statistical Mechanics with Paul Ehrenfest

On January 18, 1881, Austrian and Dutch theoretical physicist Paul Ehrenfest was born. Ehrenfest made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem. “Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?” –…
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Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff and Physical Chemistry

Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff and Physical Chemistry

On August 30, 1852, Dutch physical chemist Jacobus Henricus Van ‘t Hoff was born. Van ‘t Hoff was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His pioneering work helped found the modern theory of chemical affinity, chemical equilibrium, chemical kinetics, and chemical thermodynamics. He formulated the theory of the tetrahedral carbon atom and laid the foundations of stereochemistry and predicted the correct structures of allenes and cumulenes as well as their…
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William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

On May 12, 1895, American chemist and Nobel laureate William Francis Giauque was born. Giauque received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1949 for his “achievements in the field of chemical thermodynamics and especially his work on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures and his closely allied studies of entropy.” William Francis Giauque William Francis Giauque attended the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute and after graduating he decided to pursue a…
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Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

Walther Nernst and the third Law of Thermodynamics

On June 25, 1864, German physicist Walther Hermann Nernst was born. One of the founders of modern physical chemistry he is best known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Nernst contributed to electrochemistry, thermodynamics and solid state physics. He is also known for developing the Nernst equation. “No effect that requires…
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