After his graduation, he travels to Denmark, Germany and finally to Zurich, where he meets Peter Debye and explains to him that his theory is wrong. He impresses Debye so much that he is invited to become Debye’s assistant at the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) where he remains until 1928.
After that, he moves to Brown University. There he shows that variables such as pressure and temperature are reciprocal in irreversible chemical processes, and publishes a new theoretical description of these processes in 1929: The "Onsager reciprocal relations" later earn him the Nobel Prize. He has little talent for teaching or directing research of graduate students though, so he is laid off during the early days of the Great Depression.
Lars Onsager is awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the discovery of the reciprocal relations bearing his name, which are fundamental for the thermodynamics of irreversible processes”.
He retires from Yale in 1972 and becomes emeritus. He then becomes a member of the Center for Theoretical Studies at the University of Miami. There he remains active in guiding postdoctoral students as his teaching skills had improved over the years.
Lars Onsager is born in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway.
He graduates from Frogner School in Oslo in 1920.
He spends a year’s leave of absence in Cambridge, England, working on magnetic properties of metals.
He is admitted to Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim in the fall of that year as a student of chemical engineering and graduates in 1925.
Then Onsager moves to Baltimore and serves for the spring term as Associate in Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University.
Lars Onsager dies from an aneurysm in Coral Gables, FL.
In 1933, he is hired as a postdoc at Yale University, but as he had never received a Ph.D., he does a new research project and receives his doctorate in 1935. Even before the dissertation is finished, he is appointed assistant professor in 1934. He is promoted to full professor in 1945, but spends very little time in the classroom. Instead he produces brilliant theoretical research; for example, he proposes a theoretical explanation of the superfluid properties of liquid helium.
He marries Margarethe Arledter, daughter of a pioneer in the art of paper making. They have three sons and a daughter.