William Francis Giauque

  • From:

    University of California, Berkeley │ Berkeley, California

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  • Subject:


  • Award:


  • Citation:

    For low temperature research.

William Francis Giauque was born in Niagara Falls, Canada in 1895. After completing his secondary school education in the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute, he took a job with the Hooker Electro-Chemical Company in Niagara Falls, New York, where he became fascinated with chemical engineering and decided to make it his life's work. Giauque attended the College of Chemistry of the University of California, where he received his B.S. degree in 1920, was a University Fellow for the year 1920-1921 and James M. Goewey Fellow 1921-1922. He received the Ph.D. degree in chemistry with a minor in physics in 1922.

Dr. Giauque was appointed Instructor of Chemistry in 1922 and after passing through the intermediate grades of professorship he became Professor of Chemistry in 1934. His interest in the third law of thermodynamics as a field of research was aroused by the experimental work for his Ph.D. research under Professor G.E. Gibson. This work was concerned with the relative entropies of glycerine crystals and glass. The principal objective of his researches had been to demonstrate through a considerable number and variety of accurate tests that the third law of thermodynamics is a basic natural law.

For more than a century, scientists agreed that absolute zero, minus 459.688 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale, was impossible to reach. No one had come closer than minus 458 degrees to realizing it. In 1933, after countless hours in the laboratory, Dr. Giauque reached below the minus 458 mark using a magnetic refrigeration system he had invented. His trailblazing work proved one of the most basic laws of nature and led to stronger steel, better gasoline, and more efficient processes in a score of industries.

Information as of 1937