- Gilbert N. Lewis
name = Gilbert N. Lewis
caption =Lewis in the Berkeley Lab
October 23, 1875
March 23, 1946
nationality = American
field = Physical chemist
Covalent bond Lewis dot structures Valence bond theoryElectronic theory of acids and bases Chemical thermodynamics Heavy waterNamed photonExplained phosphorescence
Irving Langmuir Merle Randall
Gilbert Newton Lewis (
October 23, 1875- March 23, 1946) was a famous American physical chemist known for the discovery of the covalent bond(see his Lewis dot structures and his 1916 paper "The Atom and the Molecule"), his purification of heavy water, his reformulation of chemical thermodynamicsin a mathematically rigorous manner accessible to ordinary chemists, his theory of Lewis acids and bases, and his photochemicalexperiments. In 1926, Lewis coined the term " photon" for the smallest unit of radiant energy. He was a brother of Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity.
After earning his Ph.D. at Harvard under the direction of
Theodore Richards, Lewis stayed as an instructor for a year before taking a traveling fellowship, studying under the physical chemists Wilhelm Ostwaldat Leipzigand Walther Nernstat Göttingen[cite journal
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title=Some notes and queries on the development of bioenergetics. Notes on some "founding fathers" of physical chemistry: J. Willard Gibbs, Wilhelm Ostwald, Walther Nernst, Gilbert Newton Lewis
Mol. Cell. Biochem.
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pmid = 4610355
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doi=10.1007/BF01874179 ] . During Lewis's stay in Nernst's lab, Nernst and Lewis apparently developed an enmity that lasted their entire lives. A friend of Nernst's, Walther Palmaer, was a member of the Nobel Chemistry Committee; there is evidence that he used the Nobel nominating and reporting procedures to block a Nobel Prize for Lewis in thermodynamics by nominating Lewis for the prize three times, and then using his position as a committee member to write negative reports. [Patrick Coffey, "Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry", Oxford University Press, 2008: 195-207.]
After his stay in Nernst's lab, Lewis returned to Harvard as an instructor for three more years, and in 1904 left to become Superintendent of Weights and Measures for the Bureau of Science of the Philippine Islands in
Manila. The next year he returned to Cambridge when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) appointed him to a faculty position, in which he had a chance to join a group of outstanding physical chemists under the direction of Arthur Amos Noyes. He quickly rose in rank, becoming assistant professor in 1907, associate professor on 1908, and full professor in 1911. He left MIT to become professor of physical chemistry and dean of the College of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeleyin 1912. Lewis Hall at Berkeley, built in 1948, is named in his honor.
About 1902 Lewis started to use unpublished drawings of
cubical atoms in his lecture notes, in which the corners of the cube represented possible electronpositions. Lewis later cited these notes in his classic 1916 paper on chemical bonding, as being the first expression of his ideas.
In 1908 he published the first of several papers on relativity, in which he derived the
mass- energyrelationship in a different way from Albert Einstein's derivation. He also introduced the thermodynamic concept of activity in a paper, "The osmotic pressure of concentrated solutions, and the laws of the perfect solution," "J. Am. Chem. Soc." 30, 668-683 (1908).
June 21, 1912, he married Mary Hinckley Sheldon, daughter of a Harvard professor of Romance languages. They had two sons, both of whom became chemistry professors, and a daughter.
In 1913, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, but in 1934 he resigned. He refused to state the cause for his resignation; it has been speculated that it was due to a dispute over the internal politics of that institution or to the failure of those he had nominated to be elected. His decision to resign may have been sparked by resentment over the award of the 1934 Nobel Prize for chemistry to his student,
Harold Urey, for the discovery of deuterium, a prize Lewis almost certainly felt he should have shared for his work on purification and characterization of heavy water. [Coffey, "Cathedrals of Science: 221-222.]
In 1916, he published his classic paper on chemical bonding [http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/webdocs/Chem-History/Lewis-1916/Lewis-1916.html The Atom and the Molecule] , in which he formulated the idea of what would become known as the
covalent bond, consisting of a shared pair of electrons, and he defined the term odd molecule(the modern term is free radical) when an electron is not shared. He included what became known as Lewis dot structures as well as the cubical atommodel. These ideas on chemical bonding were expanded upon by Irving Langmuirand became the inspiration for the studies on the nature of the chemical bond by Linus Pauling.
In 1919, by studying the magnetic properties of solutions of
oxygenin liquid nitrogen, he found that O4 molecules were formed. This was the first evidence for tetratomic oxygen.
In 1921, Lewis was the first to propose an empirical equation describing the failure of
strong electrolytes to obey the law of mass action, a problem that had perplexed physical chemists for twenty years. His empirical equations for what he called ionic strengthwere later confirmed to be in accord with the Debye-Hückel equationfor strong electrolytes, published in 1923.
In 1923, he formulated the electron-pair theory of
acid-base reactions. In the so-called "Lewis theory" of acids and bases, a " Lewis acid" is an "electron-pair acceptor" and a " Lewis base" is an "electron-pair donor". This year he also published a monograph on his theories of the chemical bond [Gilbert N. Lewis, "Valence and the Nature of the Chemical Bond", Chemical Catalog Company, 1926.]
Based on work by J. Willard Gibbs, it was known that chemical reactions proceeded to an equilibrium determined by the free energy of the substances taking part. Lewis spent 25 years determining free energies of various substances. In 1923 he and
Merle Randallpublished the results of this study, [Gilbert N. Lewis and Merle Randall, "Thermodynamics and the Free Energies of Chemical Substances", McGraw-Hill, 1923.] which helped formalize modern chemical thermodynamics.
In 1926, he coined the term "
photon" for the smallest unit of radiant energy, although his photon differed from the photon of modern quantum physics.
Lewis was the first to produce a pure sample of deuterium oxide (
heavy water) in 1933. By accelerating deuterons (deuterium nuclei) in Ernest O. Lawrence's cyclotron, he was able to study many of the properties of atomic nuclei. During the 1930s, he was mentor to Glenn T. Seaborg, who was retained for post-doctoral work as Lewis' personal research assistant. Seaborg went on to win the 1951 Nobel Prizein Chemistry and have the element Seaborgiumnamed in his honor while he was still alive.
In the last years of his life, Lewis and graduate student
Michael Kashaestablished that phosphorescenceof organic molecules involves an excited triplet state (a state in which electrons that would normally be paired with opposite spins are instead excited to have their spin vectors in the "same" direction) and measured the magnetic properties of this triplet state.
During his career he published on many other subjects besides those mentioned in this article, ranging from the nature of
lightquanta to the economicsof price stabilization.
He died at age 70 of a heart attack while working in his laboratory in Berkeley. He had been working on an experiment with liquid
hydrogen cyanide, and deadly fumes from a broken line were leaking into the laboratory when a graduate student found the professor's lifeless body under a workbench. The coroner said Gilbert N. Lewis died of coronary artery disease; however, some believe that the death may have been a suicide. UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus William Jolly, who reported the various views on Gilbert N. Lewis' death in his 1987 history of the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Chemistry, "From Retorts to Lasers", said one higher-up in the department believed the suicide theory.
A possible explanation for the suicide theories was depression following a lunch with
Irving Langmuir. Langmuir and Lewis had had a long rivalry, dating back to Langmuir's extensions of Lewis's theories on the chemical bond, and Langmuir had been awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his theories of surface chemistry, while Lewis had not received the Nobel Prize despite 35 nominations. On the day of Lewis' death, Langmuir and Lewis met for lunch at the University of California, Berkeley--a meeting that was recalled by Lewis's last research associate, Michael Kasha, only years later. [Coffey, "Cathedrals of Science", 310-315.] It was reported by associates that Gilbert N. Lewis came back from the meeting in a dark mood. He reportedly sat down for a morose game of bridge with some colleagues, and then went back to work in his lab. An hour later, Gilbert N. Lewis was dead. Irving Langmuir's papers at the Library of Congress confirm that Irving Langmuir was on the University of California, Berkeley campus that day. Irving Langmuir had gone to the University of California, Berkeley to receive an honorary degree.
History of the molecule
* [http://www.chemheritage.org/classroom/chemach/chemsynthesis/lewis-langmuir.html Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875–1946) and Irving Langmuir (1881–1957)] - Chemical Achievers
* [http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Lewis.html Gilbert Lewis] - Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography
* [http://www.apsidium.com/theory/lewis_acid.htm Lewis Acid-Base Concept] - Overview
*Patrick Coffey, Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-532134-0
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Gilbert Newton Lewis — Gilbert Lewis Gilbert N. Lewis Naissance 23 octobre 1875 Weymouth, Massachusetts (États Unis) Décès 23 mars 1946 (à 70 ans) Berkeley, Californie (États Unis) … Wikipédia en Français
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