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Wilhelm Wien

Wilhelm Wien
Born Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz Wien
(1864-01-13)13 January 1864
Gaffken near Fischhausen, Province of Prussia
Died 30 August 1928(1928-08-30) (aged 64)
Munich, Germany
Nationality German
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Giessen
University of Würzburg
University of Munich
RWTH Aachen
Columbia University
Alma mater University of Göttingen
University of Berlin
Doctoral advisor Hermann von Helmholtz
Doctoral students Karl Hartmann
Gabriel Holtsmark
Eduard Rüchardt
Known for Blackbody radiation
Wien's displacement law
Notable awards Nobel Prize for Physics (1911)
Spouse Luise Mehler (1898)

Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz Wien (German: ; 13 January 1864 – 30 August 1928) was a German physicist who, in 1893, used theories about heat and electromagnetism to deduce Wien's displacement law, which calculates the emission of a blackbody at any temperature from the emission at any one reference temperature.

He also formulated an expression for the black-body radiation which is correct in the photon-gas limit. His arguments were based on the notion of adiabatic invariance, and were instrumental for the formulation of quantum mechanics. Wien received the 1911 Nobel Prize for his work on heat radiation.


  • Biography 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Career 1.2
  • See also 2
  • Publications 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Early years

Wien was born at Gaffken near Fischhausen, Province of Prussia (now Primorsk, Russia) as the son of landowner Carl Wien. In 1866, his family moved to Drachstein near Rastenburg (Rastembork).

In 1879, Wien went to school in Rastenburg and from 1880-1882 he attended the city school of Heidelberg. In 1882 he attended the University of Göttingen and the University of Berlin. From 1883-85, he worked in the laboratory of Hermann von Helmholtz and, in 1886, he received his Ph.D. with a thesis on the diffraction of light upon metals and on the influence of various materials upon the color of refracted light. From 1896 to 1899, Wien lectured at RWTH Aachen University. In 1900 he went to the University of Würzburg and became successor of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.


In 1896 Wien empirically determined a distribution law of ionized gas, Wien, in 1898, identified a positive particle equal in mass to the hydrogen atom. Wien, with this work, laid the foundation of mass spectrometry. J. J. Thomson refined Wien's apparatus and conducted further experiments in 1913 then, after work by Ernest Rutherford in 1919, Wien's particle was accepted and named the proton. During April 1913, Wien was a lecturer at Columbia University.[2]

In 1911, Wien was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his discoveries regarding the laws governing the radiation of heat."[3]

See also


  • —— (1898). "Ueber die Fragen, welche die translatorische Bewegung des Lichtäthers betreffen".  
  • —— (1900). Lehrbuch der Hydrodynamik.  
  • —— (1900). "Über die Möglichkeit einer elektromagnetischen Begründung der Mechanik".  
  • —— (1904a). "Über die Differentialgleichungen der Elektrodynamik für bewegte Körper. I".  
  • —— (1904b). "Über die Differentialgleichungen der Elektrodynamik für bewegte Körper. II".  
  • —— (1904c). "Erwiderung auf die Kritik des Hrn. M. Abraham".  
  • —— (1904d). "Zur Elektronentheorie".  
  • —— (1930). Aus dem Leben und Wirken eines Physikers.  


  • Rüchardt, E. (1936). "Zur Entdeckung der Kanalstrahlen vor fünfzig Jahren".  
  • Rüchardt, E. (1955). "Zur Erinnerung an Wilhelm Wien bei der 25. Wiederkehr seines Todestages".  
  1. ^ Kragh, H. (2002). Quantum Generations: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century.  
  2. ^ Wien, W. (1913). Neuere Probleme der theoretischen Physik (in Deutsch).  
  3. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1911".  

External links

  • Wilhelm Wien
  • .  
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