Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff

In my September Holiday random wiki surfing, I stumbled upon an article on van ‘t Hoff, not because I wondering how fast chemical weathering will take place in the tropics or how moving the same piece of limestone from Jamaica to Canada can slow down its solution process. I was, in fact, looking at the article on the Arrhenius Equation mainly because I forgot if the (RT/Ea) that was a post-exponential factor had a negative in front of it.

I was first introduced to the name van ‘t Hoff in Physical Geography, when we studied about chemical weathering. We spelled his name as ‘Van Hoff’, apparently dropping off the necessary alphabets that conveys no information on how to pronounce his name. I had doubts about them being the same person but upon reading more about him in the Wikipedia article, I am pretty sure they are. In Physical Geography, we learn the Van Hoff’s Law.

Van Hoff’s Law states that for every 10 degree Celsius increase in environmental temperature, the rate of chemical weathering increases by two to threefolds.

Although this law appears strongly Chemistry, it is firmly grounded in the area of geology and the reason, I have realised, is that van ‘t Hoff was professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at the University of Amsterdam for 18 years. I guess geology have not progressed that far since his time, relative to the subject of Chemistry. Looking at the work van ‘t Hoff did in Chemistry, I must say his talents had been way beyond the subject could offer him in his time. The most amazing thing is that he is the first ever recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and that was 1901 and obviously, Physical Geography have paid more tribute to him than Chemistry did. At least for today.

Van ‘t Hoff was responsible for proposing the relation between the rate constant, temperature and activation energy now known to be the Arrhenius Equation. Svante Arrhenius provided the physical justification and interpretation for the equation and thus got his name attached to the equation. Svante Arrhenius was one of those top scientists at that time who could have contributed greatly to today’s Physical Geography in area of Climate Science. He proposed the greenhouse effect and its link to ice ages. He received the third Nobel Prize in Chemistry in history, in 1903.

Subjects are converging once again…

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