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Jacobus H. van 't Hoff

Jacobus H. van 't HoffAKA Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, Jr.

Born: 30-Aug-1852
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: 1-Mar-1911
Location of death: Steglitz, Germany
Cause of death: Tuberculosis
Remains: Cremated, Berlin-Dahlem Cemetery, Berlin, Germany

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist

Nationality: Netherlands
Executive summary: Three-dimensional molecular properties

While still a student at the University of Utrecht, Dutch chemist Jacobus H. van 't Hoff wrote a paper proposing the asymmetrical carbon atom as an explanation for isomerism, the phenomenon of differing molecules that have similar atomic structure and the same atomic formula, but with differing chemical and physical properties. This paper, "Proposal for the Development of 3-Dimensional Chemical Structural Formulae", explained that if four single covalent bonds connect a carbon atom to four different atoms or groups of atoms A, B, C, and D, then two different atomic arrangements are possible. This was crucial to the understanding of organic chemistry and formed the basis of stereochemistry, the study of three-dimensional molecular properties. He also conducted a respected study of mineral deposits at Stassfurt.

For his work on rates of reaction, chemical equilibrium and osmotic pressure, van 't Hoff was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1901. He is the namesake of the Van 't Hoff equation, a rule of chemical thermodynamics that relates temperature changes to changes in equilibrium constant.

Father: Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (physician)
Mother: Alida Jacoba Kolff (b. 28-Jan-1829)
Wife: Johanna Francina Mees (high school sweetheart, b. 19-Oct-1853, m. 27-Dec-1878)
Daughter: Johanna Francina (b. 1880)
Daughter: Aleida Jacoba (b. 1882)
Son: Jacobus Hendricus (b. 1883)
Son: Govert Jacob (b. 1889)

    University: Hoogere Burgerschool, Rotterdam (1869)
    University: Delft Polytechnical Institute (1871)
    Scholar: Mathematics and Physics, University of Leiden (1871-72)
    Scholar: Chemistry, University of Bonn (1872-73)
    Scholar: Chemistry, University of Paris (1873-74)
    University: PhD Chemistry, University of Utrecht (1874)
    Teacher: Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht (1876-77)
    Teacher: Veterinary Medicine, University of Amsterdam (1877-78)
    Professor: Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology, University of Amsterdam (1878-96)
    Professor: Chemistry, University of Berlin (1896-1911)

    Davy Medal 1893 (with J. A. Le Bel)
    French Legion of Honor 1894
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1901
    Helmholtz Medal 1911
    British Chemical Society Foreign Member
    Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences 1885
    Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences 1896
    American Chemical Society 1898 (Foreign Member)
    French Academy of Sciences 1905
    Lunar Crater Van't Hoff (62.1° N 131.8° W, 92 km. diameter)

Author of books:
Chimie dans l'Espace (1875)
Études de Dynamique Chimique (1884)
L'Équilibre chimique dans les Systèmes gazeux ou dissous à I'État dilué (1885)


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