Lars Onsager, the son of a barrister, was born in Oslo, Norway, on 27th November, 1903. He graduated from Norwegian Institute of Technology (1926-28) before studying with Peter Debye at Zurich University. Over the next few years Onsager developed his theory of electrolytes.
In 1928 Onsager moved to the United States where he studied at John Hopkins University and Brown University. His thesis on reversible processes was considered incomprehensible by the chemistry, physics and mathematics departments at Brown University before Onsager finally got his PhD.
In 1933 Onsager moved to Harvard University but his lectures were unpopular with students who named his courses as "Stadistical Mechanics" and "Advanced Norwegian". His research was much more successful and he eventually found a firm statistical basis for the theory of liquid crystals. Onsager, who became a naturalized American citizen in 1945, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1968. Lars Onsager died in 1976.