EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Walther Hermann Nernst (1864-1941), German physical 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 him the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His other work included explaining how hydrogen and chlorine explode on exposure to light. He also worked on the ionisation of compounds in water, invented an electric lamp, and developed the Nernst equation, used to calculate the potential of an electrochemical cell.
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