Max von Laué (1879-1960): Champion of Freedom

28 Nov 2012
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Dieter Hoffmann
Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Not only with his most important scientific achievement, the discovery of X-ray diffraction by crystals, Max von Laué (1879-1960) belongs among the outstanding physicists of the twenty century. but he has also made famous contributions in other fields of modern physics, for instance to the theory of X-ray and electron diffraction as well as to the theory of relativity and superconductivity.

But Laué was not only a pioneer of modern physics, but also an man of character and very influential to contemporary science policy. As the Nazis came to power in 1933, Laué was among the few German scholars who refused to conform the new political circumstances and showed steadfastness and civil courage vis-a-vis the new rulers and their proxies in science. During the post war period he was a key figure in the reconstruction of German academia and the restoration of its international relations. This talk will give an overview of Laué’s life and work apart from his famous discovery of X-ray diffraction.



Bio: Dieter Hoffmann (*1948) is since 1995 Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and adjunct Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He graduated from Humboldt University in Physics and earned his PhD (1976) and habilitation (1989) there in the History of Science. From 1976 to 1990 he was a Research Fellow in the history of science at the GDR Academy of Sciences and subsequently at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt and, as a Humboldt Fellow, at the universities of Stuttgart and Cambridge and at Harvard. In 2010 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina. His research is focused on the history of science and physics in the 19th and 20th century, in particular on biographies and institutional histories. Recently he published the books “The German Physical Society in the Third Reich” (CUP 2011) and “One Hundred Years at the Intersection of Chemistry and Physics. The Haber Institiute of the Max Planck Society 1911-2011” (de Gruyter 2011).

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

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