Thursday, February 15, 2007

Top 5 German/Austrian physicists in chemistry

Many physicists made major contributions in the field of theoretical chemistry. Because of the abundance of such physicists I decided to restrict this list to German and Austrian physicists. The 5 physicists were ofcourse the pioneers of quantum mechanics and Nobel prize winners. The importance of their work for chemistry does not need an explanation.

1) Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961)

Famous because of the Schrödinger equation published in 1925: Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem; Annalen der Physik; 1926, 384, 4, 361 His papers contain impressive derivatives, integrals and differentials which confirm his image of a brilliant scientists who lives surrounded by unreadable formulas.

2) Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976)

Heisenberg published the uncertainity priciple in 1927: Über den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik; Zeitschrift für Physik A Hadrons and Nuclei, 1927, 43, 172

The Heisenberg priciple triggered Albert Einstein to write a famous sentence to Max Born. During his career he collaborated with Niels Bohr, Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli and the Nazis. The latter caused some damage on his reputation.

3) Max Born (1882-1970)

Born formulated the now-standard interpretation of the probability density function for ψ*ψ in the Schrödinger equation. In 1926 Born received a letter from Albert Einstein about the Heisenberg uncertainity principle with the famous quote: "I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice." Born replied with the famous words: "Albert, stop telling God what He must do!"

4) Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958)

Famous for the Pauli-exclusion principle, published in 1925: Über den Zusammenhang des Abschlusses der Elektronengruppen im Atom mit der Komplexstruktur der Spektren; Zeitschrift für Physik A Hadrons and Nuclei, 1925, 31, 765. Spin theory was another achievement.


5) Erich Hückel (1896-1980)

Devoloped a method for molecular orbital calculations for π electron systems. In 1931 he published valence bond and molecular orbital formulation for benzene: Die Elektronenkonfiguration des Benzols und verwandter Verbindungen; Zeitschrift für Physik A Hadrons and Nuclei, 1931, 70, 204 . Remebered for the 4n+2 rule as well.

7 comments:

cation said...

Thats a good idea, especially the Austrian ones. I think you should mention Einstein, although he lived most of his life in America, but he was born in Germany.

een of andere vent said...

Einstein was mentioned ('the quote'). His influence on chemistry was, in my opinion, more an indirect influence, so he was not awarded a place in this list. His major scientific contributions are indisputable though. My decision not to include him is disputable though, I know...

Felix said...

maybe Planck and Boltzmann since we use their constants all the time

Ψ*Ψ said...

It is handy to know my probability density function. I get lost very easily. ;)

Jalfrezi said...

All famous for making the lives of chemistry undergraduates miserable (for a brief period of time until they see sense and drop the theoretical chemistry option...)

Ashutosh said...

It is a slight misnomer to say that Heisenberg "collaborated" with the Nazis (and also to put them into the same league as Pauli and others!)

Anonymous said...

Einstein contributed by explaining Brownian motion and basically saying "Hey look Atoms must really exist"