@Physicists, Life Achievements and Family
Karl Herzfeld born at
He met his future wife, Regina Flannery at ‘Catholic University’ and they married on June 9, 1938.
On June 3, 1978, at the age of 86, this renowned scientist passed away
Karl Ferdinand Herzfeld was born on February 24, 1892 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary to Dr. Charles August and Camilla Herzfeld. As a child, he attended several prominent schools around Vienna.
From 1902-1910, he was a student at ‘Schottes Gymnasium’. The school, managed by the ‘Benedictine Order of the Roman Catholic Church’, helped develop his interest in science.
At eighteen, he began collegiate studies at the ‘University of Vienna’, studying physics and chemistry from 1910-1912.
He continued his studies at the ‘University of Zurich’, as well as ‘ETH Zurich’. It is here where he met physicist Otto Stern, who would help Karl develop a greater understanding of thermodynamics.
In 1913, he spent a year at the ‘University of Gottingen’, studying under Albert Einstein.Herzfeld completed his doctorate studies at the ‘University of Vienna’.
Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I in 1914, acquiring the position of First Lieutenant of Artillery.
After returning home in 1920, he accepted a job as a faculty member for the ‘University of Munich’. He worked in the school’s physicochemical laboratory, developing a strong interest in theoretical physics.
In 1925, his book on kinetic theory, ‘Kinetische Theorie der Wärme’ (Kinetic Theory of Heat) was published. It would become a graduate-level textbook used in numerous German universities.
In 1926, he relocated to the United States, accepting a visiting professorship at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, becoming a physics professor after one year. Herzfeld did substantial research with associate professor Francis O. Rice.
Their 1928 collaborative paper, Dispersion and absorption of high-frequency sound waves, examined the purpose of molecular vibrations in transferring energy between ultrasonic waves and gas molecules.
He served as head of the ‘Committee on Mine Advisory’, focusing on the scientific concerns of mine warfare during WWII on the side of the U.S. Throughout his tenure with the military he researched on structure of matter and application of statistical mechanics.