Gerhard Herzberg - Physicists, Facts and Personal Life

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Gerhard Herzberg's Personal Details

Gerhard Herzberg was a Germany-born Canadian physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1971

InformationDetail
BirthdayDecember 25, 1904
Died onMarch 3, 1999
NationalityCanadian, German
FamousScientists, Physicists, Chemists, Physical Chemists
SpousesElisabeth Tenthoff, Luise Oettinger
SiblingsWalter
Known asGerhard Heinrich Friedrich Otto Julius Herzberg
Childrens Agnes Margaret, Luise, Paul Albin
Birth PlaceHamburg, Imperial Germany
Born CountryGermany
GenderMale
FatherAlbin H. Herzberg
MotherElla Biber Herzberg
Sun SignCapricorn
Born inHamburg, Imperial Germany
Famous asPhysical Chemist, Physicist
Died at Age94

// Famous Scientists

Gerhard Herzberg's photo

Who is Gerhard Herzberg?

Gerhard Herzberg was a Germany-born Canadian physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in molecular spectroscopy in which he used the absorption of light by molecules and atoms to discover their geometrical patterns and electronic structures. He was born in Germany but fled from Germany when the Nazis came to power to avoid persecution because of his Jewish wife. His wife was a spectroscopist and collaborated with him during his early experiments. He was a brilliant scientist who sometimes designed his own spectroscopic methods to explain the structures of polyatomic and diatomic molecules, free radicals and astronomical objects which was difficult to obtain by any other method. Though he was a physicist, his work was of immense value to the field of physical chemistry and quantum mechanics as they dealt with the energy states and the internal geometry of molecules. He was the first Canadian to receive the Nobel Prize. Though he was asked to retire when he reached the age of sixty-five, he refused to do so, and was promoted to Professor Emeritus. He carried on with his research work for full-time as long he was fit and healthy till the time he died.

// Famous Chemists

Childhood & Early Life

Gerhard Herzberg was born in Hamburg, Germany, on December 25, 1904. His father was Albin H. Herzberg and his mother was Ella Biber Herzberg.

He had an elder brother named Walter.

His early life was very difficult as his father died in 1915 and his mother had to immigrate to America in 1922 to work as a housekeeper there.

He attended the ‘Liebig Oberrealschule’ high school in Frankfurt from 1915 to 1916.

He joined the ‘Johanneum Realgymnasium’ high school in Hamburg in 1924 from where he obtained an ‘Abitur’ which was required for admission into a university.

He studied at the ‘Technische Hoschule’ till 1928 with an industrial scholarship.

He completed his ‘Diplom Ingenieur’ in 1927 and got his Dr.-Ing from the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology’ in 1928 with the help of a federal scholarship.

He carried out post-doctorate research at the University of Gottingen during 1928 under James Franck and Max Born.

From 1928 to 1930 he did more research work at the ‘H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory’ under the ‘Bristol University, England’.

In 1929 he was the first scientist to give an accurate explanation of the chemical bonding that occurred at the electron level.

Career

Gerhard Herzberg returned to Germany and joined the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology’ as a ‘Privatdozent’ or lecturer in 1930 without getting any remuneration and worked there till 1935. Financial support came through fees from lectures and from the ‘Emergency Association of German Science’.

In 1935 he left Germany and moved to Canada as the Nazi regime in Germany debarred people with Jewish wives from their Universities.

He joined the ‘University of Saskatchewan, Canada’ in 1935 as a Research Professor of Physics and taught there till 1945.

In 1941 he became the first scientist to prove that ‘themethylidyne ions (CH+)’ were present in the interstellar clouds or the gas occupying the space between two stars.

In 1945 he joined the ‘Yerkes Observatory’ under the ‘University of Chicago’ as a professor of Spectroscopy and held that post till 1948.

He proved that hydrogen molecules are present in the atmosphere surrounding different planets in 1948.

He returned to Canada in 1948 and served as the Director of the Physics division of the ‘National Research Council of Canada (NRCC)’ from 1948 to 1955.

Herzberg was appointed the Director of the ‘Pure Physics’ department of the ‘National Research Council of Canada’ in 1955 and served in that post till 1969.

He was able to obtain the spectra of the ‘Methyl radical (CH3)’ in 1956 and the spectra of the ‘Methylene radical (CH2)’ in 1959.

He served as the President of the ‘Canadian Association of Physicists’ from 1956 to 1957 and the Vice President of the ‘International Union of Pure and Applied Physics’ from 1957 to 1963.

He also served as the President of the ‘Royal Society of Canada’ from 1966 to 1967.

In 1969 he was made ‘Distinguished Research Scientist Emeritus’ and held this post till 1974.

He served as the Chancellor of the ‘Carlton University’ from 1973 to 1980.

He became the Director of a new research facility named the ‘Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ in Ottawa in 1974 where he worked till 1995.

Major Works

His book, ‘Atomic Spectra and Atomic Structure’ was published in 1937.

His book ‘Spectra of Diatomic Molecules’ came out in 1939 while ‘Infrared and Raman Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules’ was published in 1945.

His next book ‘Electronic Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules’ was published in 1966.

Awards & Achievements

Gerhard Herzberg was made a member of the ‘Royal Society of Canada’ in 1939 and a ‘Foreign Member’ of the ‘Royal Society of London’ in 1951.

He received the ‘Henry Marshall Tory Medal’ from the ‘Royal Society of Chemists’ in 1953.

He was made a ‘Foreign Fellow’ of the ‘Indian Academy of Sciences’ in 1955.

He received the ‘Frederic Ives Medal’ in 1964.

He was awarded the ‘Companion of the Order of Canada’ in 1968.

In 1969 he was awarded the ‘Willard Gibbs medal’ by ASC and was also made a ‘Distinguished Research Scientist’ at NRCC.

In 1970 he received the ‘Faraday Medal’ from the ‘Chemical Society of London’.

He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1971.

In 1971 he also received the ‘Royal Medal’ from the ‘Royal Society of London’.

He was made a ‘Foreign Member’ of the ‘Indian National Science Academy’ in 1974.

In 1992 he was made a member of the ‘Queen’s Privy Council for Canada’ which equivalent to the British title. He started to be addressed as Honorable Gerhard Herzberg from then on.

Herzberg was made a ‘Foreign Member’ of the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences’, the ‘Optical Society of America’ and the ‘Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ and also a ‘Foreign Associate’ of the ‘National Academy of Sciences’.

He was made a member of the ‘International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science’.

The ‘Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ in Ottawa has been named after him.

The ‘Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering’ offered to brilliant scientists by the ‘Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’ was started in his honor from 2000 onwards.

An asteroid has also been named after him which is called ‘3316 Herzberg’.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Luise Oettinger, a Jew spectroscopist, on December 30, 1929.

He had had a son named Paul Albin and a daughter named Agnes Margaret from this marriage.

He married Monika Elisabeth Tenthoff on March 21, 1972 after his first wife died in 1971 a few months before he received the Nobel Prize. He had a daughter named Luise from this marriage.

Gerhard Herzberg died of illness in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on March 3, 1999.

// Famous Physicists

Gerhard Herzberg awards

YearNameAward

Other

FRS (1951)
Henry Marshall Tory Medal (1953)
Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1971)
Royal Medal (1971)

Gerhard Herzberg biography timelines

  • // 25th Dec 1904
    Gerhard Herzberg was born in Hamburg, Germany, on December 25, 1904. His father was Albin H. Herzberg and his mother was Ella Biber Herzberg.
  • // 1915 To 1922
    His early life was very difficult as his father died in 1915 and his mother had to immigrate to America in 1922 to work as a housekeeper there.
  • // 1915 To 1916
    He attended the ‘Liebig Oberrealschule’ high school in Frankfurt from 1915 to 1916.
  • // 1924
    He joined the ‘Johanneum Realgymnasium’ high school in Hamburg in 1924 from where he obtained an ‘Abitur’ which was required for admission into a university.
  • // 1927 To 1928
    He completed his ‘Diplom Ingenieur’ in 1927 and got his Dr.-Ing from the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology’ in 1928 with the help of a federal scholarship.
  • // 1928
    He studied at the ‘Technische Hoschule’ till 1928 with an industrial scholarship.
  • // 1928
    He carried out post-doctorate research at the University of Gottingen during 1928 under James Franck and Max Born.
  • // 1928 To 1930
    From 1928 to 1930 he did more research work at the ‘H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory’ under the ‘Bristol University, England’.
  • // 1929
    In 1929 he was the first scientist to give an accurate explanation of the chemical bonding that occurred at the electron level.
  • // 30th Dec 1929
    He married Luise Oettinger, a Jew spectroscopist, on December 30, 1929.
  • // 1930 To 1935
    Gerhard Herzberg returned to Germany and joined the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology’ as a ‘Privatdozent’ or lecturer in 1930 without getting any remuneration and worked there till 1935. Financial support came through fees from lectures and from the ‘Emergency Association of German Science’.
  • // 1935
    In 1935 he left Germany and moved to Canada as the Nazi regime in Germany debarred people with Jewish wives from their Universities.
  • // 1935 To 1945
    He joined the ‘University of Saskatchewan, Canada’ in 1935 as a Research Professor of Physics and taught there till 1945.
  • // 1937
    His book, ‘Atomic Spectra and Atomic Structure’ was published in 1937.
  • // 1939 To 1945
    His book ‘Spectra of Diatomic Molecules’ came out in 1939 while ‘Infrared and Raman Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules’ was published in 1945.
  • // 1939 To 1951
    Gerhard Herzberg was made a member of the ‘Royal Society of Canada’ in 1939 and a ‘Foreign Member’ of the ‘Royal Society of London’ in 1951.
  • // 1941
    In 1941 he became the first scientist to prove that ‘themethylidyne ions (CH+)’ were present in the interstellar clouds or the gas occupying the space between two stars.
  • // 1945 To 1948
    In 1945 he joined the ‘Yerkes Observatory’ under the ‘University of Chicago’ as a professor of Spectroscopy and held that post till 1948.
  • // 1948
    He proved that hydrogen molecules are present in the atmosphere surrounding different planets in 1948.
  • // 1953
    He received the ‘Henry Marshall Tory Medal’ from the ‘Royal Society of Chemists’ in 1953.
  • // 1955 To 1969
    Herzberg was appointed the Director of the ‘Pure Physics’ department of the ‘National Research Council of Canada’ in 1955 and served in that post till 1969.
  • // 1955
    He was made a ‘Foreign Fellow’ of the ‘Indian Academy of Sciences’ in 1955.
  • // 1956 To 1959
    He was able to obtain the spectra of the ‘Methyl radical (CH3)’ in 1956 and the spectra of the ‘Methylene radical (CH2)’ in 1959.
  • // 1964
    He received the ‘Frederic Ives Medal’ in 1964.
  • // 1966 To 1967
    He also served as the President of the ‘Royal Society of Canada’ from 1966 to 1967.
  • // 1966
    His next book ‘Electronic Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules’ was published in 1966.
  • // 1968
    He was awarded the ‘Companion of the Order of Canada’ in 1968.
  • // 1969 To 1974
    In 1969 he was made ‘Distinguished Research Scientist Emeritus’ and held this post till 1974.
  • // 1969
    In 1969 he was awarded the ‘Willard Gibbs medal’ by ASC and was also made a ‘Distinguished Research Scientist’ at NRCC.
  • // 1970
    In 1970 he received the ‘Faraday Medal’ from the ‘Chemical Society of London’.
  • // 1971
    He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1971.
  • // 1971
    In 1971 he also received the ‘Royal Medal’ from the ‘Royal Society of London’.
  • // 21st Mar 1971 To 21st Mar 1972
    He married Monika Elisabeth Tenthoff on March 21, 1972 after his first wife died in 1971 a few months before he received the Nobel Prize. He had a daughter named Luise from this marriage.
  • // 1973 To 1980
    He served as the Chancellor of the ‘Carlton University’ from 1973 to 1980.
  • // 1974 To 1995
    He became the Director of a new research facility named the ‘Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ in Ottawa in 1974 where he worked till 1995.
  • // 1974
    He was made a ‘Foreign Member’ of the ‘Indian National Science Academy’ in 1974.
  • // 1992
    In 1992 he was made a member of the ‘Queen’s Privy Council for Canada’ which equivalent to the British title. He started to be addressed as Honorable Gerhard Herzberg from then on.
  • // 3rd Mar 1999
    Gerhard Herzberg died of illness in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on March 3, 1999.
  • // 2000
    The ‘Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering’ offered to brilliant scientists by the ‘Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’ was started in his honor from 2000 onwards.

// Famous Physical Chemists

Gerhard Herzberg's FAQ

  • What is Gerhard Herzberg birthday?

    Gerhard Herzberg was born at 1904-12-25

  • When was Gerhard Herzberg died?

    Gerhard Herzberg was died at 1999-03-03

  • Where was Gerhard Herzberg died?

    Gerhard Herzberg was died in Ottawa, Ontario

  • Which age was Gerhard Herzberg died?

    Gerhard Herzberg was died at age 94

  • Where is Gerhard Herzberg's birth place?

    Gerhard Herzberg was born in Hamburg, Imperial Germany

  • What is Gerhard Herzberg nationalities?

    Gerhard Herzberg's nationalities is Canadian,German

  • Who is Gerhard Herzberg spouses?

    Gerhard Herzberg's spouses is Elisabeth Tenthoff, Luise Oettinger

  • Who is Gerhard Herzberg siblings?

    Gerhard Herzberg's siblings is Walter

  • Who is Gerhard Herzberg childrens?

    Gerhard Herzberg's childrens is Agnes Margaret, Luise, Paul Albin

  • Who is Gerhard Herzberg's father?

    Gerhard Herzberg's father is Albin H. Herzberg

  • Who is Gerhard Herzberg's mother?

    Gerhard Herzberg's mother is Ella Biber Herzberg

  • What is Gerhard Herzberg's sun sign?

    Gerhard Herzberg is Capricorn

  • How famous is Gerhard Herzberg?

    Gerhard Herzberg is famouse as Physical Chemist, Physicist