28 Facts About Arnold Sommerfeld


Arnold Sommerfeld served as doctoral supervisor to many Nobel Prize winners in physics and chemistry.


Arnold Sommerfeld introduced the second quantum number and the third quantum number.


Arnold Sommerfeld introduced the fine-structure constant and pioneered X-ray wave theory.


Arnold Sommerfeld's father Franz Sommerfeld was a physician from a leading family in Konigsberg, where Arnold's grandfather had resettled from the hinterland in 1822 for a career as Court Postal Secretary in the service of the Kingdom of Prussia.


Arnold Sommerfeld was baptized a Christian in his family's Prussian Evangelical Protestant Church, and although not religious, he would never renounce his Christian faith.


Arnold Sommerfeld studied mathematics and physical sciences at the Albertina University of his native city, Konigsberg, East Prussia.


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

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


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


In September 1894, Arnold 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.


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


The association Arnold Sommerfeld had with Klein influenced Arnold Sommerfeld's turn of mind to be applied mathematics and in the art of lecturing.


In October 1897 Arnold 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, Arnold Sommerfeld took on the position of editor of Volume V of Enzyklopadie der mathematischen Wissenschaften; it was a major undertaking which lasted from 1898 to 1926.


In 1900, Arnold Sommerfeld started his appointment to the Chair of Applied Mechanics at the Konigliche Technische Hochschule Aachen as extraordinarius professor, which was arranged through Klein's efforts.


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


Arnold Sommerfeld was selected for these positions by Wilhelm Rontgen, Director of the Physics Institute at Munich, which was looked upon by Sommerfeld as being called to a "privileged sphere of action".


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


Max Born believed Arnold Sommerfeld's abilities included the "discovery and development of talents".


Arnold Sommerfeld invited collaboration from them, and their ideas often influenced his own views in physics.


Arnold Sommerfeld entertained them in his home and met with them in cafes before and after seminars and colloquia.


Arnold Sommerfeld owned an alpine ski hut to which students were often invited for discussions of physics as demanding as the sport.


In 1918, Arnold Sommerfeld succeeded Einstein as chair of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.


Arnold Sommerfeld remained as his own temporary replacement during the selection process for his successor, which took until 1 December 1939.


Arnold Sommerfeld was awarded many honors in his lifetime, such as the Lorentz Medal, the Max-Planck Medal, the Oersted Medal, election to the Royal Society of London, the United States National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Indian Academy of Sciences, and other academies including those in Berlin, Munich, Gottingen, and Vienna, as well as having conferred on him numerous honorary degrees from universities including Rostock, Aachen, Calcutta, and Athens.

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Arnold Sommerfeld was nominated for the Nobel Prize 84 times, more than any other physicist, but he never received the award.


Arnold Sommerfeld died on April 26,1951, in Munich from injuries after a traffic accident while walking with his grandchildren.


Arnold Sommerfeld is buried at the Nordfriedhof close to where he lived at the time.