Arnold Sommerfeld

Science, Life and Turbulent Times 1868-1951

  • Michael Eckert

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Michael Eckert
    Pages 1-21
  3. Michael Eckert
    Pages 23-47
  4. Michael Eckert
    Pages 49-75
  5. Michael Eckert
    Pages 77-111
  6. Michael Eckert
    Pages 113-145
  7. Michael Eckert
    Pages 147-192
  8. Michael Eckert
    Pages 193-228
  9. Michael Eckert
    Pages 229-278
  10. Michael Eckert
    Pages 279-305
  11. Michael Eckert
    Pages 307-345
  12. Michael Eckert
    Pages 347-374
  13. Michael Eckert
    Pages 375-394
  14. Michael Eckert
    Pages 395-417
  15. Michael Eckert
    Pages 419-432
  16. Michael Eckert
    Pages 433-434
  17. Back Matter
    Pages 435-471

About this book


Arnold Sommerfeld (1868-1951) belongs with Max Planck (1858-1947), Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Niels Bohr (1885-1962) among the founders of modern theoretical physics, a science that developed into a budding discipline during his lifetime. Sommerfeld witnessed many of the most dramatic scientific, cultural and political events of this era. His correspondence with his family offers a vivid testament to the challenges and joys of a life in science.

This biography attempts to reconstruct Sommerfeld’s life and work not only from the perspective of his achievements in theoretical physics but also with the goal of portraying the career of a scientist within the social and political environment in which it evolved. It is based to a large extent on Sommerfeld’s voluminous correspondence, which sheds light both on his private and scientific life. Furthermore, it provides an authentic view on the circumstances that shaped Sommerfeld’s career in different places – Königsberg, Göttingen, Clausthal, Aachen, Munich – and in different institutional and disciplinary settings – mineralogy, mathematics, engineering, physics. Although this biography is not a study of Sommerfeld’s school, it also renders transparent what made this group of physicists so unique and gave its founder the aura of a charismatic teacher. This becomes particularly evident in the reverence with which he was received by his hosts during his travels all over the world – travels that Sommerfeld perceived as cultural missions. International politics, personal zeal and scientific interests became closely entangled at such occasions. Such an entanglement is by no means uncommon in the history of science – but it is rarely observed so persistently as in Sommerfeld’s case.


Bohr-Sommerfeld Theory English Language Sommerfeld Biography Fine Structure Constant Great Physics Mentor Most Nobel Prize Nominations without Winning Sommerfeld School

Authors and affiliations

  • Michael Eckert
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches MuseumMunichGermany

Bibliographic information