Arnold Sommerfeld

Arnold Sommerfeld

Arnold Sommerfeld

Birth : Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld (1868-12-05)5 December 1868 Königsberg,Kingdom of Prussia

Death : 26 April 1951(1951-04-26)(aged 82) Munich,West Germany

Personal Information

Name Arnold Sommerfeld
Birth (1868-12-05)5 December 1868 Königsberg,Kingdom of Prussia
Birth Place Königsberg,Kingdom of Prussia
Death (1951-04-26)(aged 82) Munich,West Germany
Died At Munich,West Germany
Nationality German
Alma Mater University of Königsberg
Fields Physics
Institution University of Göttingen Technische Universität Clausthal University of Aachen University of Munich)
Thesis The arbitrary functions in mathematical physics(1891)
Famous Research Sommerfeld expansion Rayleigh-Sommerfeld scalar diffraction theory Drude–Sommerfeld model Fine-structure constant Orr–Sommerfeld equation Sommerfeld identity Sommerfeld–Kossel displacement Sommerfeld–Runge method Sommerfeld–Wilson quantization Sommerfeld–Bohr theory Sommerfeld's approximation Sommerfeld number Sommerfeld–Watson representation
Doctoral Advisor Ferdinand von Lindemann

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Events Occured in Scienctist Life


Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld, (German: ; 5 December 1868 – 26 April 1951) was a German theoretical physicist who pioneered developments in atomic and quantum physics, and also educated and mentored many students for the new era of theoretical physics.


He received his Ph.D. on 24 October 1891 (age 22).After receiving his doctorate, Sommerfeld remained at Königsberg to work on his teaching diploma.


He passed the national exam in 1892 and then began a year of military service, which was done with the reserve regiment in Königsberg.


He completed his obligatory military service in September 1893, and for the next eight years continued voluntary eight-week military service.


In October 1893, Sommerfeld went to the University of Göttingen, which was the center of mathematics in Germany.


In September 1894, Sommerfeld became Felix Klein's assistant, which included taking comprehensive notes during Klein's lectures and writing them up for the Mathematics Reading Room, as well as managing the reading room.


Sommerfeld's Habilitationsschrift was completed under Klein, in 1895, which allowed Sommerfeld to become a Privatdozent at Göttingen.


In October, 1897 Sommerfeld began the appointment to the Chair of Mathematics at the Bergakademie in Clausthal-Zellerfeld; he was successor to Wilhelm Wien.


At Klein's request, Sommerfeld took on the position of editor of Volume V of Enzyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften; it was a major undertaking which lasted from 1898 to 1926.


In 1900, Sommerfeld started his appointment to the Chair of Applied Mechanics at the Königliche Technische Hochschule Aachen (later RWTH Aachen University) as extraordinarius professor, which was arranged through Klein's efforts.


From 1906 Sommerfeld established himself as ordinarius professor of physics and director of the new Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Munich.


From 1942 to 1951, Sommerfeld worked on putting his lecture notes in order for publication.


In 1914 he worked with Léon Brillouin on the propagation of electromagnetic waves in dispersive media.


He became one of the founders of quantum mechanics; some of his contributions included co-discovery of the Sommerfeld–Wilson quantization rules (1915), a generalization of Bohr's atomic model, introduction of the Sommerfeld fine-structure constant (1916), co-discovery with Walther Kossel of the Sommerfeld–Kossel displacement law (1919), and publishing Atombau und Spektrallinien (1919), which became the "bible" of atomic theory for the new generation of physicists who developed atomic and quantum physics.


In 1918, Sommerfeld succeeded Einstein as chair of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG).


The scientific papers published in DPG journals became so voluminous, a committee of the DPG, in 1919, recommended the establishment of Zeitschrift für Physik for publication of original research articles, which commenced in 1920.


In the winter semester of 1922/1923, Sommerfeld gave the Carl Schurz Memorial Professor of Physics lectures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


In 1927 Sommerfeld applied Fermi–Dirac statistics to the Drude model of electrons in metals – a model put forth by Paul Drude.


In 1928/1929, Sommerfeld traveled around the world with major stops in India, China, Japan, and the United States.


Also, as a mark of the prowess of Sommerfeld's school of theoretical physics and the rise of theoretical physics in the early 1900s, as of 1928, nearly one-third of the ordinarius professors of theoretical physics in the German-speaking world were students of Sommerfeld.


Sommerfeld achieved emeritus status, however, he stayed on as his own temporary replacement during the selection process for his successor, which took until 1 December 1939.


In an attachment to Prandtl's 28 April 1941 letter to Reich Marshal Hermann Göring, Prandtl referred to the appointment as "sabotage" of necessary theoretical physics instruction.


In an attachment to Ramsauer's 20 January 1942 letter to Reich Minister Bernhard Rust, Ramsauer concluded that the appointment amounted to the "destruction of the Munich theoretical physics tradition".


Sommerfeld died in 1951 in Munich from injuries after a traffic accident while walking with his grandchildren.


In 2004, the center for theoretical physics at the University of Munich was named after him.


Arnold Sommerfeld, translated by Henry L. Brose Wave-Mechanics: Supplementary Volume to Atomic Structure and Spectral Lines (Dutton, 1929)


Arnold Sommerfeld, Lectures on Wave Mechanics Delivered before the Calcutta University (Calcutta University, 1929) Arnold Sommerfeld and Hans Bethe, Elektronentheorie der Metalle, in H. Geiger and K. Scheel, editors Handbuch der Physik Volume 24, Part 2, 333–622 (Springer, 1933).


This nearly 300-page chapter was later published as a separate book: Elektronentheorie der Metalle (Springer, 1967).


Arnold Sommerfeld, Optik – Vorlesungen über theoretische Physik Band 4 (Dieterich'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1950) Arnold Sommerfeld, translated from the first German edition by Otto Laporte and Peter A. Moldauer Optics – Lectures on Theoretical Physics Volume IV (Academic Press, 1964)


Arnold Sommerfeld, edited by F. Bopp and J. Meixner, and translated by J. Kestin, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics – Lectures on Theoretical Physics Volume V (Academic Press, 1964)