Gustav Ludwig Hertz (Hamburg, 22 July 1887 – East Berlin, 30 October 1975) was a German physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1925, together with James Franck, "for their discovery of the laws that govern the collision of an electron with an atom". The duo did pioneering experiments with electron beams. He was a cousin of the more famous Heinrich Hertz

Training and career[Edit]Edit

Gustav Ludwig went to the school then studied in Hamburg and Johan neum from 1906 successively in Göttingen, Munich and finally to the Technical University of Berlin, where he also received his doctorate in 1911 to Heinrich Rubens. His PhD research was about the absorption of infrared light by carbon dioxide. From 1912 he together with James Franck did the research for which he later would get the Nobel Prize , especially the famous Franck-Hertz experiment, that the Bohr Atom model experimentally confirmed.

At the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 he was mobilized and in april 1915, he took part in the gas war at Ypres, for which young scientists recruited Fritz Shimon Haber . In the same year, he was seriously injured. He returned In 1917 as a private teacher back in Berlin and from 1920 to 1925 he worked at the Philips ' Natlab in Eindhoven. In 1925 he got his first professorship: he was Director of the Physics Institute of the University of Halle. In 1928 he moved to Berlin, where he came to be at the head of the Physics Institute of the Technical University. In 1935, after the seizure of power by the nazis, he was denied the power to take exams here, due to the fact that he was a Jew . Hertz decided the honourable and resigned. He then found a job in the industry, at Siemens. He plants there to light to separate isotopes , a technology that later turned out to be of the utmost importance for the development of the uranium bomb.

Because of this expertise was Hertz at the end of the Second World War along with other "Atomic specialists" as Manfred von Ardenne and Max Steenbeck by a special unit of the Red Army to Sukhumi (a place in the then Soviet Union, on the Black Sea) brought. Here he had to lead a laboratory for this German specialists. The Group developed an active ultracentrifuge for the enrichment of uranium, which the Soviet Union was able to catch up in the development of a nuclear weapon against the United States in to run. In the fall of 1954 he returned to the East of Germany, meanwhile, the GDR, – the application of nuclear energy to prepare.

From 1955 he had charge of the so-called Scientific Council for the peaceful application of nuclear energy and from that position he saw on the concentration of scattered scientific institutes and the construction of the new Zentralintitut für Kernforschung ("Central Institute for nuclear research") in Rossendorf. In parallel with these activities, he was also Director of the physical Institute from 1954 to the Karl-Marx-University in Leipzig and a member of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR and, from its creation, Member of the Forschungsrat der DDR ("Research Council of the GDR"). As a central figure in the East German nuclear physics , he received many awards and his driebandige work on nuclear physics, the first of which appeared in 1958, band became a standard work. He died in 1975 as the only East German Nobel laureate.


Hertz was the son of a lawyer, Dr. Gustav Hertz, and his wife, Auguste Arning. In 1919 he married with Ellen Dihlmann. They had two sons, Hellmuth and John, both of whom were physicist. Their son Carl Hellmuth Hertz was one of the inventors of ultrasound. Ellen died in 1941 and Hertz remarried in 1943 with Charlotte Jolasse.