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Otto Stern

Otto SternBorn: 17-Feb-1888
Birthplace: Zary, Poland
Died: 17-Aug-1969
Location of death: Berkeley, CA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, CA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Physicist, Chemist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Molecular beam experiment

Military service: German Army, 1914-18 (World War I)

Otto Stern was born in Sohrau, Upper Silesia, Germany (now Zary, Poland), and educated at the University of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). He studied under Albert Einstein, and they wrote a 1913 paper together on the zero-point energy of a harmonic oscillator. In 1920 he showed that certain atoms have magnetic moments (briefly behaving like small magnets), and in 1921, working with Walter Gerlach (1889-1979), he discovered spin quantization in a magnetic field, now called the Stern-Gerlach effect. He also used molecular beams to measure the magnetic moment of the proton, and used diffraction to show the wavelike properties or atoms and molecules.

As Germany's Nazi regime took power in 1933, Stern, who was Jewish, fled to America, where he taught and conducted research at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the University of California at Berkeley. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1943, for his development of a method of directing atom beams or molecules through magnetic fields to observe the magnetic moments of atoms, atomic nuclei, and protons. He never married, and was said to have enjoyed playing tennis and dancing. He suffered a fatal heart attack while watching a movie in a Berkeley cinema on 17 August 1969.

Father: Oscar Stern (grain merchant)
Mother: Eugenie Rosenthal
Son: Elise Stern (b. 1899, d. 1945)

    High School: Johannes Gymnasium, Breslau, Germany
    University: University of Freiburg (attended)
    University: University of Munich (attended)
    University: PhD Physical Chemistry, University of Wroclaw (1912)
    Lecturer: Privatdozent, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (1913-14)
    Lecturer: Privatdozent, University of Frankfurt (1914-21)
    Teacher: Chemistry, University of Rostock (1921-22)
    Professor: Physical Chemistry, University of Hamburg (1923-33)
    Professor: Physics, Carnegie Mellon University (1933-45)
    Professor: University of California at Berkeley

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1943
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences 1945
    Royal Danish Academy of Sciences 1936 (Foreign Member)
    German Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen 8-Mar-1939
    Heart Attack 17-Aug-1969 (fatal)


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