Lewis and Randall (1923)


Thermodynamics and the Free Energy of Chemical Substances by G.N. Lewis and M. Randall, published by McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc. and printed in the USA. This copy is a first edition from 1923.

Lewis and Randall were the first to apply the thermodynamic principles developed by Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903) to chemical processes, thereby establishing chemical thermodynamics as a modern, practical science.

This book was also the first to introduce the term ‘free energy’ in the English-speaking world, and was largely responsible for its adoption in place of the previously employed term ‘chemical affinity’.

It should be noted that Gibbs did not use the term free energy. The honors for this go to the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz who introduced the concept of “freie Energie” in his groundbreaking 1882 paper “Die Thermodynamik chemischer Vorgänge” (On the Thermodynamics of Chemical Processes).


Lewis and Randall dedicated the book with these words:

“Let this book be dedicated to the chemists of the newer generation, who will not wish to reject all inferences from conjecture or surmise, but who will not care to speculate concerning that which may be surely known. The fascination of a growing science lies in the work of the pioneers at the very borderland of the unknown, but to reach this frontier one must pass over well travelled roads; of these one of the safest and surest is the broad highway of thermodynamics.”

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