The New Student's Reference Work/Helmholtz, Herman Ludwig Ferdinand von

Helm′holtz, Herman Ludwig Ferdinand von, the most distinguished physicist of the 19th century, was born at Potsdam, Prussia, August 31, 1821, and died at Charlottenburg, near Berlin, Sept. 8, 1894. He was educated at the Military Medical School at Berlin. Having taken his degree in medicine in 1842, he remained an army-surgeon until 1847, when he published his remarkable paper On the Conservation of Energy. This paper, which, perhaps, more than any other has dominated physical science during half a century, was refused publication by Poggendorff's Annalen, the leading physical journal of the world. It was published by the Physical Society of Berlin, July 23, 1847.

In 1849 he became professor of physiology and pathology at the University of Königsberg. In 1855 he accepted the chair of anatomy and physiology at Bonn and, three years later, the chair of physiology at Heidelberg. It was at the latter place that he prepared those two monumental volumes, The Sensations of Tone (1862) and Physiological Optics (1866). In 1871 he was called to Berlin as professor of physics. This university at once became headquarters for physical investigation, a position which it maintained for a quarter of a century. In 1888 Helmholtz was called to the directorship of the great National Physical laboratory at Charlottenburg, where he remained until his death in 1894. His investigations in hydrodynamics and geometry are of the first rank, and make him almost equally distinguished as physiologist, physicist and mathematician.