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Oliver Wolcott Gibbs
For the writer, see Wolcott Gibbs.
Additional recommended knowledge
Oliver Wolcott Gibbs (February 21, 1822 - December 9, 1908), United States chemist, was born at New York.
His father, Colonel George Gibbs, was an ardent mineralogist; the mineral gibbsite was named after him, and his collection was finally bought by Yale College. Entering Columbia College in 1837, Wolcott (he dropped the name "Oliver" at an early date) graduated in 1841, and, having assisted Robert Hare at Pennsylvania University for several months, he next entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, qualifying as a doctor of medicine in 1845.
Leaving America he studied in Germany with K.F. Rammelsberg, Heinrich Rose and Justus von Liebig, and in Paris with Auguste Laurent, JB Dumas, and HV Regnault, returning in 1848. In that year he became professor of chemistry at the Free Academy, now the College of the City of New York, and in 1863 he obtained the Rumford professorship in Harvard University, a post retained until his retirement in 1887 as professor emeritus. His candidacy for Professor of Physical Science at Columbia was rejected in 1854 because he was a Unitarian.
Gibbs's researches were mainly in analytical and inorganic chemistry, the cobalt-amines, platinum metals and complex acids being especially investigated. He was an excellent teacher, and contributed many articles to scientific journals. See the Memorial Lecture by FW Clarke in the J.C.S. (1909), p. 1299.
Gibbs has been immortalized in the naming of the Gibbs features in and near Yosemite National Park. Mt. Gibbs stands 12,773 feet above sea level. Gibbs Lake is located at 9530 feet above sea level in the canyon northeast of the peak. Gibbs Lake is formed by Gibbs Creek, originating in the upper reaches of Gibbs Canyon, and drains into Lee Vining Canyon. Gibbs is also one of the few scientists recognized in the United States Capitol in Washington DC. A small statue of him is on the Amateis bronze doors. (See pp. 350 – 351 of Art in the United States Capitol, 1978, US Government Printing Office.)
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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