Gilbert Lewis Biography

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Introduction “There are ancient cathedrals which, apart from their consecrated purpose, inspire solemnity and awe. Even the curious visitor speaks of serious things, with hushed voice, and as each whisper reverberates through the vaulted nave, the returning echo seems to bear a message of mystery.” (Coffey ix) Gilbert N. Lewis, who said the quote above, is proportionally under-credited for his works in chemistry and thermodynamics. He has been criminally overshadowed outside of the chemistry world by those who arguably did less impressive work for their time. Without Lewis, we may not have the same understanding of chemicals and their workings. History Lewis was born on October 25, 1875 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. At home, he was taught…show more content…
This model stated that atoms were made of cubes with electrons at the eight corners. This matched with the patterns of atoms in the Periodic Table, but he did not publish his theory. In 1913, he and a colleague released a theory that there were two types of bonds: polar and nonpolar. During 1916, Lewis published his most important article. This article told his theory that chemical bonds occur when a pair of electrons is jointly held by two atoms. He depicted this with a model of cubes (Figure 1) as he had in a Harvard classroom fourteen years before. By this model, atoms should have four pairs of electrons surrounding them. These pairs could be independently controlled, or shared between atoms. This theory stagnated for three years, until Irving Langmuir brought it back and went further in depth in 1919. It would soon become known as the Lewis-Langmuir theory, which is one of the core concepts of chemistry. Lewis was not a fan of Langmuir’s name being linked to the theory. When Lewis released his theory, it had received minimal response, but Langmuir’s re-release with new information had been widely accepted. This would spark a lifelong rivalry with Langmuir for…show more content…
Despite being nominated thirty-five times for the illustrious award, Lewis was never presented with it. His 1925 nomination was blocked by a negative analysis from Svante Arrhenius. The next year, he was given a good report that he should receive the prize later for future ventures into his studies. However, he would mostly leave the fields for which he was nominated by the very next year. Over the next few years, he would gain many nominations for his work. However, a rivalry with German scientist Walther Nernst permanently kept him from winning the prize. He had a grudge against Nernst, publishing papers showcasing Nernst’s errors, which he kept up after being barred from the prize because of
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