Friday, February 1, 2013

Only fitting that that I select a scientist who was instrumental on my next topic.  Gilbert Newton Lewis was born in Weymouth, MA on October 23, 1875.  Lewis entered the University of Nebraska at age 13 and transferred to Harvard in 1894 where he received a BS degree in Chemistry and then a Ph.D. at age 24.  He went to work for Wilhelm Ostwald and Walther Nernst in Germany and then spent time in the Philippines with the Bureau of Weights.  Later returned to Massachusetts where he was appointed to a professorship at  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  In 1912 he obtained a professorship with the University of California at Berkeley where he remained for the rest of his life.

In 1916 he published a paper “The Atom and the Molecule” where he describes his theory of bonding where there are eight electrons in the outer orbit of an atom and the electrons are represented with dots (Lewis Dot Structures).  In addition, he developed new classifications for acids and bases and performed photochemical experiments.  Another distinction for Lewis was that coined the term “photon” although he intended for it to be structural unit rather than one quantum of light energy.  Very few people have been nominated for Nobel Prizes but Lewis is the only one who could say they have been nominated 35 times never to win.  A chemist to the end, Lewis died in his laboratory in 1946.

Gilbert Newton Lewis
wikipedia: Gilbert N. Lewis

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