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Walther Hurmann Nernst was born in Briesen West Prussia on June 25 1864 His father Gustav Nernst was a district judge He spent his early school years at Graudentz and subsequently went to the Universities of Zurich Berlin and Graz studyin physics and mathermatics before proceeding to Wurzburg where he graduated in 1887 with a thesis on electromotive forces produced by magnetism in heated metal plates He joined Willhelm Ostwald at Leipzig University where vant Hoff and Arrhenius were already established and it was in this distinguished company of physical chemists that Nernst began his important researchesIn 1894 he received invitations to the Physics Chairs in Munich and in Berlin as well as to the Physical chemistry Chair in Gottingen He accepted this latter invitation and in Gottingen founded the Institute for Physical chemistry and Electrochemistry and became its Director In 1905 he was appointed Professor of Chemistry later of Physics in the University of Berlin becoming Director of the newly founded Pysikalisch-Chemisches Institut in 1924 He remained in this position until his retirement in 1933Nernsts early studies in electrochemistry were inspired by Arrhenius dissociation theory which first recognized the importance of ions in solution IN 1889 he elucidated the theory of galvanic cells by assuming an electrolytic pressure of dissolution which forces ions from electrodes into solution and which was opposed to the osmotic pressure of the dissolved ions In the same year he derived equations which defined the conditions by which solids precipitate from saturated solutions HIs heat theorem known as the Third Law of Thermodynamics was developed in 1906 It demonstrated that the maximum work obtainable from a process could be calculated from the heat evolved at temperatures close to absolute zero-earlier ideas had not considered the effects of temperature-and conditions of equilibrium in many chemical reactions could now be precisely worked out In addition to its theoretical problems inducing calculations in ammonia synthesisNernst and his students in Berlin proceeded to make
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