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Wilhelm Wien

Wilhelm WienAKA Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz Wien

Born: 13-Jan-1864
Birthplace: Parusnoye, Russia
Died: 30-Aug-1928
Location of death: Munich, Germany
Cause of death: unspecified

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

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Blackbody radiation

German physicist Wilhelm Wien was born in Gaffken, Prussia (now Parusnoye, Russia), and studied under Hermann von Helmholtz. He is best known for Wien's displacement law of blackbody radiation (1893), and the Wien approximation (1896). Wien's displacement law describes the pattern of radiation emission from the efficient blackbody (a surface that absorbs all radiant energy striking it). Radiation from a blackbody varies over a wide range of wavelengths, but Wien's distribution law (1896; sometimes called the Wien approximation) noted an intermediate wavelength where radiation reaches a maximum, and calculated that this extreme wavelength is inversely proportional to the temperature of the material.

Wien's distribution law applies only at short wavelengths, becoming less reliable as wavelengths grow longer, a curiosity which was investigated by Wien's colleague Max Planck, leading to Planck's development of a quantum theory of radiation. Wien discovered the proton in 1898, and studied canal rays (beams of positive ions), cathode rays (electron beam), and x-rays. Friends and family called him "Willy". He won the 1911 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Father: Carl Wien (farmer, d. 1891)
Wife: Caroline Gertz
Wife: Luise Mehler (dated 1896-98, m. 1898, four children)
Daughter: Gerda
Daughter: Hildegard
Son: Karl
Son: Waltraut

    High School: Altstädtisches Gymnasium, Königsberg, Germany (1882)
    University: University of Göttingen (attended, 1882-83)
    University: University of Berlin (attended, 1883-84)
    University: PhD Physics, University of Berlin (1886)
    Teacher: Physics, University of Berlin (1890-96)
    Professor: Physics, University of Aachen (1896-99)
    Professor: Physics, University of Giessen (1899-1900)
    Professor: Physics, University of Würzburg (1900-20)
    Professor: Physics, University of Munich (1920-28)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1911
    German Academy of Science
    German Ancestry
    Russian Ancestry

Author of books:
Lehrbuch der Hydrodynamik (Textbook of Hydrodynamics) (1900, textbook)
Aus der Welt der Wissenschaft (From the World of Science) (1921, non-fiction)
Aus dem Leben und Wirken eines Physikers (The Life and Work of A Physicist) (1930, memoir)

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