Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1232-1233


Kolhörster, Werner Heinrich Julius Gustav

  • Jordan D. MarchéIIAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin

BornSchwiebus (Świebodzin, Poland), 28 December 1887

DiedMunich, Germany, 5 August 1946

Werner Kolhörster helped bring modern, quantitative methods to the study of cosmic rays.

Kolhörster earned his PhD in physics under the direction of Friedrich Ernst Dorn at the University of Halle in 1911. He then became interested in the discovery of cosmic rays in the Earth’s upper atmosphere by Austrian physicist Victor Hess, achieved by means of balloon ascensions (up to 5-km altitude) with an electrometer. Kolhörster extended the balloon-borne measurements up to 10-km altitude and fully demonstrated the validity of Hess’s conclusions. He remained an assistant at the Physical Institute in Halle until the outbreak of World War I. He spent the war years in Turkey measuring atmospheric electricity.

After the war, Kolhörster was forced into secondary teaching to support himself, at the Friedrich Werdersche Oberrealschule (circa 1920–1924) and the Sophien Realgymnasium, Berlin (circa 1924–1928). Nonethel ...

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