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Encyclopedia > Lars Onsager
Lars Onsager
Lars Onsager
Lars Onsager
Born November 27, 1903
Christiania, (Oslo), Norway
Died October 5, 1976
Coral Gables, Florida, USA
Residence USA
Nationality Norwegian- American
Field Physical chemist
Institution ETH Zürich
Johns Hopkins University
Brown University
Yale University
Alma mater Norwegian Institute of Technology
Academic advisor Peter Debye
Notable students Joe McCauley
Known for Onsager reciprocal relations
Notable prizes Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1968)

Lars Onsager (November 27, 1903October 5, 1976) was a Norwegian-American physical chemist and theoretical physicist, winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He held the Gibbs Professorship of Theoretical Chemistry at Yale University. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (465x640, 40 KB) This is Onsagers standard photo on public domain brochures and talk announcements. ... November 27 is the 331st day (332nd on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1903 (MCMIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Friday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ... Depending on context, Christiania can refer to: Christiania, capital of Norway – what Oslo was called from 1624 to 1877, named after King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway; subsequently, the city was called Kristiania (q. ... County Oslo NO-03 District Viken Municipality NO-0301 Administrative centre Oslo Mayor (2004) Per Ditlev-Simonsen (H) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 224 454 km² 426 km² 0. ... October 5 is the 278th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (279th in Leap years). ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Coral Gables is a city located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, southwest of Miami. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Largest metro area Miami Area  Ranked 22nd  - Total 65,795[1] sq mi (170,304[1] km²)  - Width 162 miles (260 km)  - Length 497 miles (800 km)  - % water 17. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Norway. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... Physical Chemistry is the combined science of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics which functions to provide molecular-level interpretations of observed macroscopic phenomena. ... ETH Zurich (from its German name Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, ETHZ) is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Brown University is a private university located in Providence, Rhode Island. ... Yale redirects here. ... The main building of the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH). ... Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus Debije (March 24, 1884 – November 2, 1966) was a Dutch physical chemist. ... Image File history File links Nobel. ... In thermodynamics, the Onsager reciprocal relations express the equality of certain relations between flows and forces in thermodynamical systems out of equilibrium, but where a notion of local equilibrium exists. ... Image File history File links Nobel. ... List of Nobel Prize laureates in Chemistry from 1901 to the present day. ... November 27 is the 331st day (332nd on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1903 (MCMIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Friday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ... October 5 is the 278th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (279th in Leap years). ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Physical Chemistry is the combined science of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics which functions to provide molecular-level interpretations of observed macroscopic phenomena. ... Theoretical physics attempts to understand the world by making a model of reality, used for rationalizing, explaining, predicting physical phenomena through a physical theory. There are three types of theories in physics; mainstream theories, proposed theories and fringe theories. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday. ... List of Nobel Prize laureates in Chemistry from 1901 to the present day. ...

Contents

His life before moving to the United States

Lars Onsager was born in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway. His father was a lawyer. After completing secondary school in Oslo, he attended the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim, graduating as a chemical engineer in 1925. County Oslo NO-03 District Viken Municipality NO-0301 Administrative centre Oslo Mayor (2004) Per Ditlev-Simonsen (H) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 224 454 km² 426 km² 0. ... English barrister 16th century painting of a civil law notary, by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. ... The main building of the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH). ... County Sør-Trøndelag District Municipality NO-1601 Administrative centre Trondheim Mayor (2005) Rita Ottervik (AP) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 258 342 km² 322 km² 0. ... Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science, e. ... 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ...


In 1925 he arrived at a correction to the Debye-Hückel theory of electrolytic solutions, to take care of Brownian movement of ions in solution, and in 1926 published it. He made a trip to Zürich, where Peter Debye was teaching, and confronted Debye, telling him his theory was wrong. He so thoroughly impressed Debye that he was invited to become Debye's assistant at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), where he remained until 1928. 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus Debije (March 24, 1884 – November 2, 1966) was a Dutch physical chemist. ... Erich Armand Arthur Joseph Hückel (August 9, 1896 - February 16, 1980) was a German physicist and physical chemist. ... An electrolyte is a substance containing free ions which behaves as an electrically conductive medium. ... Dissolving table salt in water This article is about a chemical solution; for other uses of the term solution, see solution (disambiguation). ... An example of 1000 steps of Brownian motion in two dimensions. ... Multivalent redirects here. ... Year 1926 (MCMXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar). ... Zürich (German:   , Zürich German: Züri , in English generally Zurich, Italian: Zurigo) is the largest city in Switzerland (population: 366,145 in 2004; population of urban area: 1,091,732) and capital of the canton of Zürich. ... ETH Zurich (from its German name Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, ETHZ) is the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland. ... Year 1928 (MCMXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar). ...


At Johns Hopkins

Eventually in 1928 he went to the United States of America to take a faculty position at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. At JHU he had to teach freshman classes in chemistry, and it quickly became apparent that, while he was a genius at developing theories in physical chemistry, he had no talent for teaching. He was dismissed by JHU after one semester. Year 1928 (MCMXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar). ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Nickname: Monument City, Charm City, Mob Town[1][2], B-more Motto: The Greatest City in America[3], Get in on it. ... Chemistry (from Persian language کیمیا Kimia and Greek χημεία khēmeía[1] meaning alchemy) is the science of matter at the atomic to molecular scale, dealing primarily with collections of atoms, such as gases, molecules, crystals, and metals. ...


At Brown

On leaving JHU, he took a position (involving the teaching of statistical mechanics to graduate students in chemistry) at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where it became clear that he was no better at teaching advanced students than freshmen, but he made significant contributions to statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. The only graduate student who could really understand his lectures on electrolyte systems, Raymond Fuoss, worked under him and eventually joined him on the Yale chemistry faculty. In 1933, when the Great Depression limited Brown's ability to support a faculty member who was only useful as a researcher and not a teacher, he was let go by Brown, being hired after a trip to Europe by Yale University, where he remained for most of the rest of his life, retiring in 1972. Statistical mechanics is the application of probability theory, which includes mathematical tools for dealing with large populations, to the field of mechanics, which is concerned with the motion of particles or objects when subjected to a force. ... Brown University is a private university located in Providence, Rhode Island. ... Nickname: Beehive of Industry, The Renaissance City, The Divine City Location in Rhode Island Coordinates: Country United States State Rhode Island County Providence  - Mayor David N. Cicilline (D) Area    - City 53. ... Thermodynamics (from the Greek thermos meaning heat and dynamics meaning power) is a branch of physics that studies the effects of changes in temperature, pressure, and volume on physical systems at the macroscopic scale by analyzing the collective motion of their particles using statistics. ... Year 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... TheGreat Depression was a worldwide economic downturn which started in October of 1929 and lasted through most of the 1930s. ... World map showing the location of Europe. ... Yale redirects here. ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ...


His work at Brown was mainly concerned with the effects on diffusion of temperature gradients, and produced the Onsager reciprocal relations, a set of equations published in 1929 and, in an expanded form, in 1931, in statistical mechanics whose importance went unrecognized for many years. However, their value became apparent in the decades following World War II, and by 1968 they were considered important enough to gain Onsager that year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The temperature gradient in a given direction from a given spatial starting point is the rate at which temperature changes relative to distance in that direction from that point. ... In thermodynamics, the Onsager reciprocal relations express the equality of certain relations between flows and forces in thermodynamical systems out of equilibrium, but where a notion of local equilibrium exists. ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1931 calendar). ... Statistical mechanics is the application of probability theory, which includes mathematical tools for dealing with large populations, to the field of mechanics, which is concerned with the motion of particles or objects when subjected to a force. ... Combatants Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday. ... List of Nobel Prize laureates in Chemistry from 1901 to the present day. ...


In 1933, just before taking up the position at Yale, Onsager traveled to Austria to visit electrochemist Hans Falkenhagen. He met Falkenhagen's sister-in-law, Margrethe Arledter. They were married on September 7, 1933, and had three sons and a daughter. Year 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... English chemists John Daniell (left) and Michael Faraday (right), both credited to be founders of electrochemistry as known today. ... September 7 is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years). ... Year 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ...


At Yale

At Yale, an embarrassing situation occurred: he had been hired as a postdoctoral fellow, but it was discovered that he had never received a Ph. D. While he had submitted an outline of his work in reciprocal relations to the Norwegian Institute of Technology, they had decided it was too incomplete to qualify as a doctoral dissertation. He was told that he could submit one of his published papers to the Yale faculty as a dissertation, but insisted on doing a new research project instead. His dissertation, entitled, "Solutions of the Mathieu equation of period 4 pi and certain related functions", was beyond the comprehension of the chemistry and physics faculty, and only when some members of the mathematics department, including the chairman, insisted that the work was good enough that they would grant the doctorate if the chemistry department would not, was he granted a Ph. D. in chemistry in 1935. Even before the dissertation was finished, he was appointed assistant professor in 1934, and promoted to associate professor in 1940. He quickly showed at Yale the same traits he had at JHU and Brown: he produced brilliant theoretical research, but was incapable of giving a lecture at a level that a student (even a graduate student) could comprehend. He was also unable to direct the research of graduate students, except for the occasional outstanding one. Doctor of Philosophy (from Greek , meaning Teacher of Philosophy), typically abbreviated Ph. ... The main building of the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH). ... In mathematics, the Mathieu functions are solutions to the Mathieu differential equation, which is The Mathieu equation and its solutions are the basis to understand the phenomenon of parametric resonance. ... Chemistry (from Persian language کیمیا Kimia and Greek χημεία khēmeía[1] meaning alchemy) is the science of matter at the atomic to molecular scale, dealing primarily with collections of atoms, such as gases, molecules, crystals, and metals. ... Physics (Greek: (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the fundamental laws which govern matter, energy, space, and time and explaining them using mathematics. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ...


In the late 1930s, Onsager turned his work direction to the dipole theory of dielectrics, making improvements in another area that had been studied by Peter Debye. However, when he submitted his paper to a journal that Debye edited in 1936, it was rejected; Debye would not accept Onsager's ideas until after World War II. In the 1940s, he studied the statistical-mechanical theory of phase transitions in solids, deriving a mathematically elegant theory which was enthusiastically received. He obtained the exact solution for the two dimensional Ising model at the critical point in 1944. The Earths magnetic field, which is approximately a dipole. ... A dielectric, or electrical insulator, is a substance that is highly resistant to electric current. ... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Combatants Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total... Statistical mechanics is the application of probability theory, which includes mathematical tools for dealing with large populations, to the field of mechanics, which is concerned with the motion of particles or objects when subjected to a force. ... In the physical sciences, a phase is a set of states of a macroscopic physical system that have relatively uniform chemical composition and physical properties (i. ... In jewelry, a solid gold piece is the alternative to gold-filled or gold-plated jewelry. ... The Ising model, named after the physicist Ernst Ising, is a mathematical model in statistical mechanics. ...


In 1945, Onsager was naturalized as an American citizen, and the same year he was awarded the title of J. Willard Gibbs Professor of Theoretical Chemistry. This was particularly appropriate because Onsager, like Willard Gibbs, had been primarily involved in the application of mathematics to problems in physics and chemistry and, in a sense, could be considered to be continuing in the same areas where Gibbs had pioneered. Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... Naturalization is the act whereby a person voluntarily and actively acquires a nationality which is not his or her nationality at birth. ... Josiah Willard Gibbs (February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903) was an American mathematical physicist who contributed much of the theoretical foundation that led to the development of chemical thermodynamics and was one of the founders of vector analysis. ... Euclid, Greek mathematician, 3rd century BC, as imagined by by Raphael in this detail from The School of Athens. ... Physics (Greek: (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the fundamental laws which govern matter, energy, space, and time and explaining them using mathematics. ... Chemistry (from Persian language کیمیا Kimia and Greek χημεία khēmeía[1] meaning alchemy) is the science of matter at the atomic to molecular scale, dealing primarily with collections of atoms, such as gases, molecules, crystals, and metals. ...


In 1947, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1950 he joined the ranks of Alpha Chi Sigma. Year 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1947 calendar). ... President Harding and the National Academy of Sciences at the White House, Washington, DC, April 1921 The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine. ... 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Alpha Chi Sigma (ΑΧΣ) is a professional fraternity specializing in the field of chemistry. ...


After World War II, Onsager turned to new areas of interest. He proposed a theoretical explanation of the superfluid properties of liquid helium in 1949; two years later the physicist Richard Feynman independently proposed the same theory. He also worked on the theories of liquid crystals and the electrical properties of ice. While on a Fulbright scholarship to Cambridge, England, he worked on the magnetic properties of metals. He developed important ideas on the quantization of magnetic flux in metals. He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 1958 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1968. Combatants Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total... Superfluidity is a phase of matter characterised by the complete absence of viscosity. ... A liquid will usually assume the shape of its container. ... General Name, Symbol, Number helium, He, 2 Chemical series noble gases Group, Period, Block 18, 1, s Appearance colorless Atomic mass 4. ... Year 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... Physics (Greek: (phúsis), nature and (phusiké), knowledge of nature) is the science concerned with the discovery and understanding of the fundamental laws which govern matter, energy, space, and time and explaining them using mathematics. ... Richard Phillips Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988; surname pronounced ) was an American physicist known for expanding the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, and particle theory. ... Schlieren texture of Liquid Crystal nematic phase Liquid crystals are substances that exhibit a phase of matter that has properties between those of a conventional liquid, and those of a solid crystal. ... Snowflakes by Wilson Bentley, 1902 Ice is the name given to any one of the 14 known solid phases of water. ... This article is about Cambridge, England; see also other places called Cambridge. ... Hot metal work from a blacksmith In chemistry, a metal (Greek: Metallon) is an element that readily forms positive ions (cations) and has metallic bonds. ... Lorentz Medal is an award given every four years by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. ... Nobel Prize medal. ...


After Yale

At age 70, Onsager was involuntarily retired as an emeritus professor at Yale, in 1973. He was then appointed Distinguished University Professor at the University of Miami (Florida). At the Center for Theoretical Studies at the University of Miami he remained active in guiding and inspiring postdoctoral students as his teaching skills, although not his lecturing skills, had improved during the course of his career. He developed interests in semiconductor physics, biophysics and radiation chemistry. However, his death came before he could produce any breakthroughs comparable to those of his earlier years. 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday. ... The University of Miami (also known as UM or just The U) is a private university founded in 1925 with its main campus in the city of Coral Gables in metropolitan Miami, Florida, in the United States. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Largest metro area Miami Area  Ranked 22nd  - Total 65,795[1] sq mi (170,304[1] km²)  - Width 162 miles (260 km)  - Length 497 miles (800 km)  - % water 17. ...


He remained in Florida until his death from an aneurysm in Coral Gables, Florida in 1976. Onsager had a rivalry with Professor John Gamble Kirkwood at Yale that they both took to their graves, placed next to one another at New Haven's Grove Street Cemetery. While Kirkwood's tombstone has a long list of awards and positions, including the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry, the Richards Medal, and the Lewis Award, Onsager's tombstone, in its original form, simply said "Nobel Laureate." In 1991, his children added an asterisk after "Nobel Laureate," and "*etc." in the lower right corner of the stone. John (Jack) Gamble Kirkwood (May 30, 1907 — August 9, 1959) was a noted chemist, holding faculty positions at Cornell, Chicago, Caltech, and Yale. ... The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a learned society (professional association) based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. ...


References

The Collected Works of Lars Onsager (with Commentary) World Scientific Series in 20th Century Physics - Vol. 17 Editors: Per Chr Hemmer, Helge Holden and Signe Kjelstrup Ratkje (World Scientific, Singapore 1996) ISBN 981-02-2563-6.


Constitutions of matter : mathematically modelling the most everyday of physical phenomena by Martin H. Krieger, University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 0-226-45304-9 Contains a detailed pedagogical discussion of Onsager's solution of the phase transition of the 2-D Ising model. The Ising model, named after the physicist Ernst Ising, is a mathematical model in statistical mechanics. ...


External link

  • Lars Onsager profile, NNDB.
  • The Lars Onsager Lecture and The Lars Onsager Professorship.

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

Preceded by
Manfred Eigen,
Ronald George Wreyford Norrish,
and George Porter
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1968
Succeeded by
Derek Harold Richard Barton
and Odd Hassel

  Results from FactBites:
 
Lars Onsager - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (929 words)
Lars Onsager (November 27, 1903 – October 5, 1976) was a Norwegian physical chemist, winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
His work at Brown was mainly concerned with the effects on diffusion of temperature gradients, and produced the Onsager reciprocal relations, a set of equations published in 1929 and, in an expanded form, in 1931, in statistical mechanics whose importance went unrecognized for many years.
This was particularly appropriate because Onsager, like Willard Gibbs, had been primarily involved in the application of mathematics to problems in physics and chemistry and, in a sense, could be considered to be continuing in the same areas where Gibbs had pioneered.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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