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.


Studying with some of the greatest people in physics


Burying Nernst three times
Manfred Eigen Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Nernst was a very authoritative person. There is a nice story perhaps I could tell. Nernst later was somehow in disgrace with the Nazi system but he died during the war and they forbid to have a big funeral ceremony, but some of the professors went secretly and he was buried at his farm which is east of Berlin. And, among them were Bonhoeffer, Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer, to whom I later came after Eucken, but I will tell later about that, and Richard Becker, whom I mentioned, who was a theoretical physicist in Göttingen. So, they met, but then when the war came to the end that part of Germany was taken by Russian troops and they brought Nernst over to Thuringia, but then it was decided that also Thuringia was occupied by Russian troops and they brought him to Göttingen.

It happened that in Thuringia again Bonhoeffer and Becker went to a little ceremony and finally, when he came to Göttingen, Bonhoeffer founded the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, physical chemistry, and Becker was the Professor of Theoretical Physics. And then it happened at the cemetery that Bonhoeffer said to his colleague, Becker, 'Isn't that somehow funny that we bury our colleague Nernst now for the third time?' And Becker said, 'Oh, you can't do it often enough', because Nernst was such a rough person that they all... but that was a joke of course.

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: Max Planck Institute, University of Göttingen, Nazi, Thuringia, Berlin, Walther Hermann Nernst, Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer, Arnold Eucken, Richard Becker

Duration: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008