William Francis Giauque

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Giauque, William Francis


Born May 12, 1895, in Niagara Falls, Canada. Physical chemist; member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of the USA and of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1920 he graduated from the chemistry department of the University of California, where he became a professor of chemistry in 1934.

Giauque’s main work has been the study and experimental verification of the third law of thermodynamics and the measurement of entropy and other thermodynamic properties of substances, particularly condensed gases, at very low temperatures. In collaboration with H. Johnston, he showed the existence of the oxygen isotopes 17O and 18O. In collaboration with D. MacDougall he developed the method of adiabatic demagnetization for the production of temperatures below 1°K and a method of measuring very low temperatures. He was a Nobel Prize laureate in 1949.


Nobel Lectures Including Presentation Speeches and Laureates’ Biographies: Chemistry, 1942-1962. New York, 1964.
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(A brief conversation with the late William Giauque 20 years ago validated this expectation, but Giauque himself was a bit nonplussed about the effect's being applied on a terrestrial scale.
* William Giauque (1949) was a US citizen; did precollege education in Canada and received award at U.C.