Walther Nernst and the Transition to Modern Physical Science

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Primarily a scientific biography of Walther H. Nernst (1864-1941), one of Germany's most important, productive, and often controversial scientists, this book addresses a specific set of scientific problems that evolved at the intersection of physics, chemistry, and technology during one of the most revolutionary periods of modern physical science. Nernst, who won the 1920 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, was a key figure in the transition to a modern physical science, contributing to the study of solutions, of chemical equilibria, and of the behavior of matter at the extreme temperatures. A director of major research institutes, rector of the Berlin University, and inventor of a new electric lamp, Nernst was at once the first "modern" physical chemist, an able scientific organizer, and a savvy entrepreneur. His career exemplified the increasing connection between German technical industry and academic science, between theory and experiment, between concepts and practice.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Barkan's picture of Nernst and his science includes many new and interesting interpretations, solidly documented and based on meticulous archival studies." Physics Today

"...Barkan's book provides an exceptionally convincing account of an era that is probably of greatest interest to physical chemists. We recommend this book...." Nature

"...a readable, informative book offering a window into the technical, political, and social aspects of the scientific research of that fascinating era." American Journal of Physics

"...quite informative and thoughtfully constructed book that should be relevant to anyone interested in the history of modern phyical science, and particularly its relations to technological developments." Technology and Culture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521176293
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2011
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Nernst, the Historiography of His Science, and Its Context 1
2 Nothing Is More Practical Than Theory: Beginnings 21
3 The Early Researches 41
4 The Gottingen Years 58
5 The Nernst-Planck Exchange 77
6 Electricity and Iron: The Electrolytic Lamp 91
7 High Temperatures and the Heat Theorem 110
8 Theory and the Heat Theorem 132
9 Berlin: Low Temperatures 147
10 The Incorporation of Quantum Theory 164
11 "The Witches' Sabbath": Nernst and the First International Solvay Congress in Physics 181
12 Simply a Matter of Chemistry? The Nobel Prize 208
Conclusion 241
Bibliography 253
Index 275
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