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Burying Nernst three times


Physical chemistry had a great tradition in Göttingen
Manfred Eigen Scientist
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I should say a few words about physical chemistry in Göttingen. I said that mathematics had a good tradition. I said physics and quantum mechanics came out of Göttingen, and in fact Edward Teller was an assistant with Eucken in 1932, 1933. Viki Weisskopf was assistant in the Institute, but physical chemistry as such had also a good tradition in Göttingen, as did chemistry. You know Wöhler was at Göttingen.

[Q] Wallach.

Wallach was there, and Windaus, all the W's!

[Q] Zsigmondy.

Zsigmondy did his ultramicroscope in Göttingen, yes. And so was physical chemistry. It was founded by Walther Nernst in 1896. He was Professor of Physics in Göttingen and he founded the first Physical Chemistry Institute, and I think it was the first institute of physical chemistry in the world. So the successor of Nernst then was... Nernst later went to Berlin, and his successor was Tammann, who was especially studying metals, and the successor of Tammann was Eucken.

[Q] So I understand Eucken was the doyen of physical chemistry in Göttingen in Germany?


[Q] So he was worldwide renown?

Yes, and he had written a very famous textbook which contained all physics and chemistry which was relevant for physical chemistry, including quantum mechanics, and I think Edward Teller had participated in writing the first volume of it in quite a detailed way.

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: University of Göttingen, physical chemistry, mathematics, Physical Chemistry Institute, quantum mechanics, ultramicroscope, Victor Frederick "Viki" Weisskopf, Arnold Eucken, Edward Teller, Friedrich Wöhler, Otto Wallach, Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus, Richard Adolf Zsigmondy, Walther Hermann Nernst, Gustav Heinrich Johann Apollon Tammann

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008