Wendell Mitchell Latimer (April 22, 1893 – July 6, 1955) was an American
A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin ''alchemist'') is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe t ...
notable for his description of
In chemistry, the oxidation state, or oxidation number, is the hypothetical charge of an atom if all of its bonds to different atoms were fully ionic. It describes the degree of oxidation (loss of electrons) of an atom in a chemical compound. C ...
in his book "The Oxidation States of the Elements and Their Potentials in Aqueous Solution" ( ASIN
B000GRXLSA, first published 1938).
He received his Ph.D from the
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public land-grant research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the University of California, it is the state's first land-grant u ...
for the work with George Ernest Gibson
He earned many awards and honors for his scientific work.
Awards and honors
Latimer received many awards and honor during his lifetime including membership in the
National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit, non-governmental organization. NAS is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Na ...
, and chairmanship of its Section of Chemistry from 1947 to 1950; the Distinguished Service Award from his alma mater, the
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas (KU) is a public research university with its main campus in Lawrence, Kansas, United States, and several satellite campuses, research and educational centers, medical centers, and classes across the state of Kansas. ...
, in 1948; the President's Certificate of Merit
, in 1948; Faculty Research Lecture in 1953, an honor that the Academic Senate of the
University of California
The University of California (UC) is a public land-grant research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Fr ...
annually bestows upon one of its members; the William H. Nichols Medal from the New York Section of the
American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a scientific society based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has more than 155,000 members at all d ...
, in 1955 with a citation for his "Pioneer Studies on the
Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these quantities is governed by the four laws o ...
An electrolyte is a medium containing ions that is electrically conducting through the movement of those ions, but not conducting electrons. This includes most soluble salts, acids, and bases dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. Upon ...
s, especially the Entropies of Ions in Aqueous Solutions."
Discovery of tritium
In 1933 Latimer used the recently discovered Allison effect
Tritium ( or , ) or hydrogen-3 (symbol T or H) is a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen with half-life about 12 years. The nucleus of tritium (t, sometimes called a ''triton'') contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus o ...
. Gilbert N. Lewis
bet against his discovery, and he had to pay when Latimer showed him his data. However, that same year the Allison effect was discredited in the eyes of the scientific community, and the discovery of tritium was credited to
Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics.
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' considers him to be the greatest ...
in 1934. Latimer explained years later he had been unable to reproduce his results, and he couldn't even find where he had gone wrong. The events were cited by
Irving Langmuir (; January 31, 1881 – August 16, 1957) was an American chemist, physicist, and engineer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1932 for his work in surface chemistry.
Langmuir's most famous publication is the 1919 art ...
in his 1953 speech about pathological science
"The Oxidation States of the Elements and Their Potentials in Aqueous Solution" ASIN
B000GRXLSA published 1938.
*Wendell Mitchell Latimer
20th-century American chemists
Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences