Johannes Diderik van der Waals died on this date in 1923. He was a Dutch theoretical physicist and thermodynamicist famous for his work on an equation of state for gases and liquids. His name is primarily associated with the van der Waals equation of state that describes the behaviour of gases and their condensation to the liquid phase. His name is also associated with van der Waals forces (forces between stable molecules), with van der Waals molecules (small molecular clusters bound by van der Waals forces), and with van der Waals radii (sizes of molecules). He became the first physics professor of the University of Amsterdam when, in 1877, the old Athenaeum was upgraded to Municipal University. Van der Waals won the 1910 Nobel Prize in physics.
Otto Hahn, OBE, ForMemRS was born on this date in 1879. He was a German chemist and pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1944 for the discovery of nuclear fission. He is regarded as one of the most significant chemists of all time and especially as “the father of nuclear chemistry”. Hahn was an opponent of Jewish persecution by the Nazi Party and after World War II, he became a passionate campaigner against the use of nuclear energy as a weapon. He served as the last President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) in 1946 and as the founding President of the Max Planck Society (MPG) from 1948 to 1960. Considered by many to be a model for scholarly excellence and personal integrity, he became one of the most influential and revered citizens of the new Federal Republic of Germany.
Edward Calvin Kendall was born on this date in 1886. He was an American chemist. In 1950, Kendall was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Swiss chemist Tadeus Reichstein and Mayo Clinic physician Philip S. Hench, for their work with the hormones of the adrenal gland. Kendall did not only focus on the adrenal glands, he was also responsible for the isolation of thyroxine, a hormone of the thyroid gland and worked with the team that crystallised glutathione and identified its chemical structure. Kendall was a biochemist at the Graduate School of the Mayo Foundation at the time of the award. He received his education at Columbia University. After retiring from his job with the Mayo Foundation, Kendall joined the faculty at Princeton University, where he remained until his death in 1972. Kendall Elementary School, in Norwalk, is named for him.