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Becoming interested in fast reactions


Studying with some of the greatest people in physics
Manfred Eigen Scientist
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I did much in physics, in theoretical physics, with Becker, and I did my theoretical physics also with Heisenberg. For compare the two, then I thought always I understood better Heisenberg. But we had to do problems, we had to do...

[Q] Homework?

Homework. And I realised I couldn't do the problems easily, so I really didn't understand it. Whereas with Becker I always had the feeling it's very difficult ‒ very, very, but the problems were easy to do, so one could understand it better. So I did during my student time much physics with those ‒ Becker, Heisenberg ‒ in theory and experimental physics with Kopfermann and Paul, both great physicists, too. Assistant in Kopfermann's institute was Pauli, Wolfgang Pauli, who later got a Nobel Prize. A con-semester of mine was Dehmelt, who got a Nobel Prize. So it was a...

[Q] Great time...

Great time and a congenial atmosphere.

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, theoretical physics, Nobel Prize in Physics, experimental physics, Richard Becker, Werner Karl Heisenberg, Hans Kopfermann, Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, Hans Georg Dehmelt, Wolfgang Paul

Duration: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: July 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008