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Max von Laue

Max von LaueAKA Max Theodor Felix von Laue

Born: 9-Oct-1879
Birthplace: Pfaffendorf, Germany
Died: 23-Apr-1960
Location of death: Berlin, Germany
Cause of death: Accident - Automobile
Remains: Buried, Göttingen City Cemetery, Göttingen, Germany

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: X-ray crystallography

Military service: German Army (1898-99)

German physicist Max von Laue won the Nobel Prize in 1914, for his work measuring the wavelength of x-rays by their diffraction through the atoms of a crystal. His studies showed that x-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation similar to light, and that crystals have a molecular structure that regularly repeats its arrangement. He studied or worked under David Hilbert, Arnold Sommerfeld, Albert Einstein, and Max Planck, and made significant contributions to the scientific understanding of how applied magnetic fields affect superconductivity.

As the Nazis came to power in Germany, von Laue openly criticized the governmental stance against "Jewish physics" (i.e., Einstein), and remained in contact with otherwise-isolated Jewish colleagues. During World War II he refused to work on the Nazi program to develop nuclear weapons, and instead wrote a respected book on the history of physics. Still, as one of the leading physicists in Germany, he was among the scientists taken into custody after the war, and was imprisoned for almost a year at Farm Hill in England. During his incarceration he wrote a paper on the absorption of X-rays.

He was an early and enthusiastic adapter of the automobile, and had a reputation for driving at fast speeds. He was seriously injured in a collision with a motorcycle in Berlin on 7 April 1960 in which the cyclist was killed, and von Laue died of his injuries about two weeks later.

Father: Julius von Laue (military official)
Wife: Magdalena Degen (m. 1910)

    High School: Protestantische Gymnasium, Strasbourg, Germany (1898)
    University: University of Strassburg
    University: BS, University of Göttingen (1904)
    University: University of Munich (one semester)
    University: PhD Mathematics and Physics, University of Berlin (1903)
    Scholar: University of Göttingen (1903-04)
    Lecturer: Thermodynamics, University of Munich (1909-12)
    Professor: Physics, University of Zürich (1912-14)
    Professor: Physics, University of Frankfurt (1914-16)
    Professor: Physics, University of Munich (1919-43)
    Administrator: Director, Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Berlin (1919-43)
    Professor: Physics, University of Göttingen (1951-58)
    Administrator: Director, Max Planck Institute, Berlin (1951-58)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1914
    Matteucci Medal 1914
    Max Planck Medal 1932
    Knighthood Order Pour le Mérite:1952
    Helmholtz Medal 1959 (awarded by East Berlin Academy of Sciences)
    Grand Cross with Star for Federal Services 1953
    French Legion of Honor 1957 (Officer)
    Accademia dei Lincei
    American Physical Society Foreign Member
    German Academy of Science
    German Physical Society
    German Mathematical Society
    International Union of Crystallographers
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society Foreign Member
    Russian Academy of Sciences
    Taken Prisoner of War 1945-46 (Farm Hill Prison, near Cambridge, England)
    German Ancestry
    Asteroid Namesake 10762 von Laue
    Lunar Crater von Laue (28.0°N 96.7°W, 87 km. diameter)

Author of books:
Das Relativitätsprinzip (The Theory of Relativity) (1911)
Die Theorien der Radiologie (The Theories of Radiology) (1925)
Röntgenstrahl-Interferenzen (X-Ray Interferences) (1941)
Geschichte der Physik (History of Physics) (1943)
Theorie der Supraleitung (Theory of Superconductivity) (1947)
Materiewellen und ihre Interferenzen (Matter Waves and Their Interference) (1948)
Gesammelte Schriften und Vorträge (Collected Writings & Lectures) (1961)


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