William F. Giauque

Banquet speech

William F. Giauque’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, December 10, 1949

Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. On this occasion I wish to express our sincere thanks for the many courtesies which we have received from the people of Sweden.

This is our first visit here, but I have long had a special consciousness for Sweden, and I would like to mention the reason for this.

When I was ready for college, it was on the recommendation of Dr. John Woods Beckman,1 a native of Sweden, that I left the eastern part of America to enter the University of California. There I found opportunity to do the scientific work which has brought me to Stockholm. During our long friendship with Dr. and Mrs. Beckman they have often told us of Sweden, but with characteristic Swedish modesty, they have not prepared us for what we have seen here.

Stockholm is a beautiful city, it stands as evidence of the energy, and good taste, of Sweden.

Although I am supposed to be well along in the educational process, there has been a serious omission, the study of Swedish. However, your efficient Foreign Office has started, to teach me, and I can at least say – Tack sĂ„ mycket.


Prior to the speech, Carl Skottsberg, President of the Royal Academy of Sciences, addressed the laureate: “William Francis Giauque, few things are more likely to warm your heart and stimulate your activity than the most horrible cold. Your thermodynamic research required extremely low temperatures, a thousandth fracture of a centigrade above absolute zero – everybody present here is, I am sure, familiar with that figure. In order to get -what you wanted you had to invent a new method, and this you did through theoretical analysis; this done, you invented and constructed the complicated apparatus. Your work has opened new fields for research and given new insight into the structure of matter.”


. Son of Ernst Beckman, Swedish parliament member 1889-1915, and leader of the liberal party for many years.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1949, Editor Arne Holmberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1950

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1949

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