William Francis Giauque
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1949
Born: 12 May 1895, Niagara Falls, Canada
Died: 28 March 1982, Berkeley, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
Prize motivation: “for his contributions in the field of chemical thermodynamics, particularly concerning the behaviour of substances at extremely low temperatures”
Prize share: 1/1
Thermodynamics is about heat and its transformation into other forms of energy—basically involving statistical descriptions of atomic and molecular movements. An important but difficult to grasp concept in thermodynamics is entropy, which is a measure of disorder in a system. The third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy in a perfect crystal is zero when the absolute temperature is zero. In 1933 William Giauque used a magnetic field to attain an extremely low temperature and was able provide evidence for the law’s validity.