William Francis Giauque

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William Francis Giauque (born May 12, 1895 in Niagara Falls , Canada , † March 28, 1982 in Berkeley ) was a Canadian - American chemist , Nobel Prize winner (1949) and made fundamental contributions to thermodynamics .


Giauque first attended an elementary school in Michigan . In 1908, after the death of his father, his mother and his two siblings moved back to Niagara Falls in Canada, where he attended secondary school at the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute until he graduated from high school. Due to the tight financial situation in the family, he was unable to start the electrical engineering degree he was aiming for and instead worked in various power plants in order to gain experience in the field of electrical engineering in advance . Giauque applied for a job there in response to a job advertisement from the Hooker Electro-Chemical Company , a chlor-alkali electrolysis plant . Convenient for him, as the factory premises were also in Niagara Falls , but in New York State . Working in the company's laboratory aroused his interest in chemical processes and the problems associated with them, so he decided to study chemistry instead of engineering.

After two years with the Company Hooker took Giauque on the College of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley to study chemistry, which he with the highest distinction than 1920 B. S. , graduated to 1921 to a fellow named of the year and from 1921 until 1922 was recognized with a James M. Goewey Fellowship , which was associated with a scholarship. He received his doctorate in 1922 with a thesis on the validity of Gilbert N. Lewis and George Ernest Gibson's published thesis on the validity of the third law of thermodynamics : The third law of thermodynamics; evidence from the specific heats of glycerol that the entropy of a glass exceeds that of a crystal at the absolute zero for a doctorate in chemistry, whereby he was able to win Gibson as his doctoral supervisor .

Live and act

Lewis recognized Giauque's genius early on and in 1922 offered him the position of his assistant. In 1934 he was appointed professor. During this time he achieved his most important achievement in the field of the method of adiabatic change of state for the demagnetization of materials and substances with which he could reach temperatures close to zero and for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1949 .

Another important discovery by Giauque was the fact that the oxygen isotopes 17 and 18, which had previously been considered a pure element and based on their atomic mass of 16.00000 as the standard element , did not correspond to the facts. At his suggestion, the International Commission of Atomic Weight changed the defined atomic mass 12.0000 of the oxygen isotope 12 as a new standard in 1961 .

Since 1936 a member of the National Academy of Sciences , Giauque taught at the University of California until he retired in 1982.


In 1932 Giauque married Muriel Francis Ashley with whom he had two sons, Robert David and William Francis .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Google Books, pp. 26-26 (English)
  2. George Ernest Gibson, Chemistry: Berkeley. Calisphere; University of California, accessed February 24, 2020 .
  3. ^ Biographical data, publications and academic family tree of William Francis Giauque at academictree.org, accessed on February 7, 2018.
  4. ^ William F. Giauque; Facts. The Nobel Prize organization, December 12, 1949, accessed February 25, 2020 .
  5. ^ William F. Giauque. American Institute of Physiks, accessed February 27, 2020 .
  6. ^ Jutta Berger: Giauque, William Francis , Lexicon of important natural scientists, 2007, Volume 2; Elsevier GmbH, Munich; P. 100; ISBN 3-8274-1883-6
  7. ^ Award of the Chandler Medal to Professor Giauque. Science Magazine, accessed February 27, 2020 .
  8. Google Books, p.127 (English)
  9. The froid pour le développement durable. Institut International du Froid, accessed on February 27, 2020 (French).