research program in chemical thermodynamics envisioned by Lewis required
research with materials at very low temperatures. To support this
work, Wendell M. Latimer set up a liquid hydrogen facility in the
Gilman Hall basement. Completed in 1921, it was the first in the United
States. Latimer had received his Ph.D. at Berkeley in 1917, working
with George Ernest Gibson, one of Lewis's first Berkeley hires and
the research director for many doctoral students. Latimer is best
known for organizing thermodynamic data for inorganic chemistry in
his 1938 book, The Oxidation States of the Elements and Their Potentials
in Aqueous Solution, and for his later leadership in the College
the early 1930s, Giauque's student J. W. Kemp made heat capacity measurements
on frozen and liquid ethane, but the data were not interpreted until
Kenneth S. Pitzer came to Berkeley from the California Institute of
Technology (Cal Tech) in 1935 to work on thermodynamics with Latimer.
When Pitzer learned of the ethane data, he and Kemp set about using
these data to determine the barrier to the internal rotation of adjacent
methyl groups. This work was the start of numerous papers by Pitzer
on internal rotation and the thermodynamic properties of hydrocarbons.
Electrochemical measurements were another way to establish thermodynamic
properties. Merle Randall, who came with Lewis from MIT, and E. D.
Eastman, an early Lewis student, worked with Latimer in a Gilman Hall
laboratory specifically designed for such measurements.
the faculty who did organic or analytical research worked in the
old chemistry building, a small group of inorganic or general physical
chemists were working in Gilman Hall. The best known was Joel H.
Hildebrand, who researched the theory of solutions. Hired by Lewis
in 1913 to revamp first-year chemistry classes, he directed freshman
chemistry instruction for nearly 40 years. His views on chemical
education were widely respected.
respected Lewis hire, William C. Bray, also came to Berkeley from
MIT. He pursued research in chemical kinetics and directed many
students, including Henry Taube, who received the Nobel Prize in
Chemistry in 1983. Axel R. Olson, also a faculty member working
in Gilman Hall, was an early Lewis student who worked primarily
in chemical kinetics. He also studied X-ray-induced plant mutations.