Continued from www.scienceindia.in/home/view_blog/25

Born: 2nd September, 1853, Riga, Russian Empire (now Latvia)

Ostwald was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1909 for his work on catalysis, chemical equilibria and reaction velocities.

Right up to the end of his life Ostwald studied colours and shapes, in the endeavour to find a scientific standardization for colours. Ostwald  received honorary doctorates from several universities in Germany, Great Britain and the USA, and was made an honorary member of learned societies in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, Great Britain and the USA. In 1899 he was made a "Geheimrat" by the King of Saxony.

Ostwald was educated at the "Real gymnasium" till 1872 then was admitted in Dorpat University. In 1877 he was admitted as unpaid academic lecturer at Dorpat University, in 1881 appointed as full time Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnicum in Riga. Six years later he accepted an invitation as Professor of Physical Chemistry at Leipzig University. Ostwald remained in Leipzig until he retired in 1906.

Ostwald’s  pioneering work in the field of electrochemistry, led to the discovery of the law of dilution named after him. Ostwald became one of the founders of classical physical chemistry. He published Textbook of General Chemistry in 1884, Outline of General Chemistry in 1889 and Handbook and Manual for Physico-chemical Measurements in 1893. Numerous other scientific works on analytical chemistry, electrochemistry, inorganic chemistry followed.

Ostwald founded the German Electrochemical Society which in 1902 expanded to become the "German Bunsen-Society for Applied Physical Chemistry”.

After his retirement in 1906, Ostwald found a new sphere for his scientific and organizatorial talents. Besides continuing his studies and publication on philosophy, he also took an active part in public life. He supported the middle-class pacifist movement, was interested in educational reforms and in monism.