Walther Nernst, German chemist

Walther Nernst, German chemist

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Credit: TRANS-OCEAN/EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Walther Hermann Nernst (1864-1941), German chemist. Nernst was appointed to a professorship in Berlin in 1905. The same year, he proposed the third law of thermodynamics: entropy change approaches zero at a temperature of absolute zero. This work earned Nernst the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His other work included explaining how hydrogen and chlorine explode on exposure to light, the result of a chain reaction. He also worked on the ionisation of compounds in water, invented an electric lamp, and developed the Nernst equation. This equation is used to calculate the electrical potential of an electrochemical cell (such as a battery). Photograph published in 1936.

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