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Johannes van der Waals
Johannes Diderik van der Waals.jpg
Born (1837-11-23)23 November 1837
Leiden, Netherlands
Died 8 March 1923(1923-03-08) (aged 85)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater University of Leiden
Known for Laying the foundations for modern molecular physics (molecular theory)
Originating modern theory of intermolecular forces
Law of corresponding states
Real gas law
van der Waals forces
van der Waals equation of state
van der Waals radius
van der Waals surface
van der Waals molecule
Awards Nobel Prize for Physics (1910)
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical physics, thermodynamics
Institutions University of Amsterdam
Doctoral advisor Pieter Rijke
Doctoral students Diederik Korteweg
Willem Hendrik Keesom
Influences Rudolf Clausius
Ludwig Boltzmann
Josiah Willard Gibbs
Thomas Andrews
Influenced Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
Willem Hendrik Keesom
Peter Debye
Zygmunt Florenty Wróblewski
James Dewar
Fritz London
Modern molecular science (including molecular physics and molecular dynamics)

Johannes Diderik van der Waals (23 November 1837 – 8 March 1923) 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 behavior 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). As James Clerk Maxwell said about Van der Waals, "there can be no doubt that the name of Van der Waals will soon be among the foremost in molecular science."

In his 1873 thesis, van der Waals noted the non-ideality of real gases and attributed it to the existence of intermolecular interactions. In 1908, Onnes became the first to make liquid helium; this led directly to his 1911 discovery of superconductivity.

Van der Waals started his career as a school teacher. 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 for his work on the equation of state for gases and liquids.

In September 1877 van der Waals was appointed the first professor of physics at the newly founded Municipal University of Amsterdam. Two of his notable colleagues were the physical chemist Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff and the biologist Hugo de Vries. Until his retirement at the age of 70 van der Waals remained at the Amsterdam University. He was succeeded by his son Johannes Diderik van der Waals, Jr., who also was a theoretical physicist. In 1910, at the age of 72, van der Waals was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. He died at the age of 85 on March 8, 1923.

Personal life=

He married Anna Magdalena Smit in 1865, and the couple had three daughters (Anne Madeleine, Jacqueline E. van der Waals [nl], Johanna Diderica) and one son, the physicist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, Jr. [nl] Jacqueline was a poet of some note. Van der Waals' nephew Peter van der Waals was a cabinet maker and a leading figure in the Sapperton, Gloucestershire school of the Arts and Crafts movement. The wife of Johannes van der Waals died of tuberculosis at 34 years old in 1881. After becoming a widower Van der Waals never remarried and was so shaken by the death of his wife that he did not publish anything for about a decade. He died in Amsterdam on March 8, 1923, one year after his daughter Jacqueline had died.

His grandson, Christopher D. Vanderwal is a distinguished professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine.

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