Sir James Walker

Born 1863. Died 1935.

His Claim To Fame

Sir James Walker spent three years working in Germany with notable German physical chemists Ludwig Claisen, Adolf von Baeyer and Wilhelm Ostwald where he was introduced to the new theories of physical chemistry before returning to Scotland. He translated Ostwald's general chemistry text to English and wrote his own Introduction to Physical Chemistry which became a standard textbook in Britain. He also investigated electrolysis in the synthesis of dicarboxylic acids, determined dissociation constants of many acids and bases and used freezing point depression to determine molecular weights. In 1918 he returned to the manifold problems of the post-war period. He planned and saw built at Edinburgh one of the finest university chemical laboratories in the country, and established a research school there in order to provide the higher training for chemistry being demanded by the greatly expanded British chemical industry. Although Walker made no important discoveries, his experimental work and his influence as a teacher did much to win support for physical chemistry in Great Britain. He retired in 1928.


Experiments

  1. He experimented electrolysis in the synthesis of dicarboxylic acids.
  2. He also determined dissociation constants of many acids and bases and used freezing point depression to determine their molecular weights.