THE Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year has gone to Prof. W. F. Giauque, professor of chemistry in the University of, California. Of French–Canadian extraction, he first trained as an engineer, but soon became interested in physical chemistry and joined the famous Berkeley School, founded by G. N. Lewis and presided over by him until his death a few years ago. Giauque's name first became familiar to a wider circle by his discovery in 1929 (with Johnston) of the rare oxygen isotope 18 (and soon afterwards of the still rarer one 17), the existence of which he deduced from the interpretation of absorption spectra. He is best known, however, for his suggestion— independent of that of Debye—of the so-called magnetic method of cooling which, partly in his own hands, has in the last fifteen years extended the temperature region attainable in the laboratory to about a hundredth of a degree off the absolute zero. The great bulk of his work and that of his collaborators is composed of a systematic, patient and very accurate investigation of specific heats at low temperatures, guided by a thorough understanding of the theoretical problems involved. It was largely his work which has created for the chemist the conditions necessary for applying the Third Law of Thermodynamics, and has provided him in this way with a wealth of material for the calculation of equilibrium data. Giauque's low-temperature laboratory, founded on sound engineering practice, was the nucleus and is now the centre of America's fast-growing school of low-temperature research.
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Nobel Prize for Chemistry for 1949 : Prof. W. F. Giauque. Nature 164, 819 (1949). https://doi.org/10.1038/164819c0