a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Physical chemistry had a great tradition in Göttingen


Converting my diploma thesis to a doctoral thesis
Manfred Eigen Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I started my thesis as a diploma thesis, that's like a master thesis in the States. And I told Eucken, 'Look, I measured now the specific heat of heavy water up to...' It came almost to 200°C, we improved the machine later, and I said, 'Now let me first make my examination and then start my doctoral thesis'. 'Oh', he said, 'then we lose several months of time', and, 'why don't you go on immediately?' Well, I mean, he probably knew that he was not living too long any more, and, so, in fact he died after a few months. But I said, 'Look, but I need first my diploma, then I can do my doctors'. 'Oh', he said, 'why do you need a diploma, why don't you continue and I'll take it as a doctoral thesis?' 'Well', I said, 'but that you have to tell your colleagues in the faculty'. He said, 'That's my problem, not yours'.

And so I could immediately go on, and did these other measurements and finished it as a doctoral thesis. So I was really, what is impossible nowadays, was 23... had my doctoral thesis. But Eucken died meanwhile and he left a stipend for me so I stayed on in the Institute of Physical Chemistry.

Nobel Prize winning German biophysical chemist, Manfred Eigen (1927-2019), was best known for his work on fast chemical reactions and his development of ways to accurately measure these reactions down to the nearest billionth of a second. He published over 100 papers with topics ranging from hydrogen bridges of nucleic acids to the storage of information in the central nervous system.

Listeners: Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitch

Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch is the eldest daughter of the Austrian physicist Klaus Osatitsch, an internationally renowned expert in gas dynamics, and his wife Hedwig Oswatitsch-Klabinus. She was born in the German university town of Göttingen where her father worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Aerodynamics under Ludwig Prandtl. After World War II she was educated in Stockholm, Sweden, where her father was then a research scientist and lecturer at the Royal Institute of Technology.

In 1961 Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch enrolled in Chemistry at the Technical University of Vienna where she received her PhD in 1969 with a dissertation on "Fast complex reactions of alkali ions with biological membrane carriers". The experimental work for her thesis was carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen under Manfred Eigen.

From 1971 to the present Ruthild Winkler-Oswatitsch has been working as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen in the Department of Chemical Kinetics which is headed by Manfred Eigen. Her interest was first focused on an application of relaxation techniques to the study of fast biological reactions. Thereafter, she engaged in theoretical studies on molecular evolution and developed game models for representing the underlying chemical proceses. Together with Manfred Eigen she wrote the widely noted book, "Laws of the Game" (Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1981 and Princeton University Press, 1993). Her more recent studies were concerned with comparative sequence analysis of nucleic acids in order to find out the age of the genetic code and the time course of the early evolution of life. For the last decade she has been successfully establishing industrial applications in the field of evolutionary biotechnology.

Tags: Institute of Physical Chemistry, diploma thesis, doctoral thesis, Arnold Eucken

Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008