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Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as AuthorPublished as Subject

Peter J. W. Debye

Photo

Dates

March 24, 1884 – November 2, 1966

Authorized Form of Name

Debye, Peter J. W. (Peter Josef William), 1884-1966

Additional Forms of Names

Debaĭ, Peter, 1884-1966

Debije, Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus, 1884-1966

Debije, Pie, 1884-1966

Biography

Abstract

Peter Debye was Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Cornell University (1940-1966). Other institutional affiliations included the University of Berlin and Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. His research spanned chemistry and physics.

Important Dates

March 24, 1884Birth, Maastricht (Netherlands).

1905Obtained Dipl. Ing., RWTH Aachen University (Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule Aachen).

1906 – 1910Lecturer, University of Munich, Munich (Germany).

1908Obtained EE and PhD, University of Munich, Munich (Germany).

1911 – 1912Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Zurich.

1912 – 1914Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Utrecht.

1914 – 1920Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen (Germany).

1915 – 1940Editor, Physical Journal (Physikalische Zeitschrift).

1920 – 1927Principal and Professor of Physics, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zurich (Switzerland).

1927 – 1934Professor of Physics and Director of the Physical Institute, University of Leipzig, Leipzig (Germany).

1934 – 1939Director, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, Berlin (Germany).

1934 – 1940Professor of Physics, Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin, Berlin (Germany).

1936Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his contributions to our knowledge of molecular structure through his investigations on dipole moments and on the diffraction of X-rays and electrons in gases".

1940 – 1966Chair, Department of Chemistry (1940-1952); Professor of Chemistry (1940-1952); and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry (1952-1966), Cornell University, Ithaca (N.Y.).

1947Member, National Academy of Sciences.

1965Awarded National Medal of Science.

1965Awarded Polymer Physics Prize, American Physical Society.

November 2, 1966Death, Ithaca (N.Y.).

Occupation

Physical chemist.

Places

Birth

Maastricht (Netherlands)

Undergraduate Education

Aachen (Germany)

Graduate Education

Munich (Germany)

Employment

Göttingen (Germany)

Zurich (Switzerland)

Leipzig (Germany)

Berlin (Germany)

Ithaca (N.Y.)

Death

Ithaca (N.Y.)

Subjects

Adiabatiac processes.

Atomic theory.

Electrolytes.

Molecular structure.

Nuclear physics.

Quantum theory.

Solid state physics.

Relationships

People

Advisors & Collaborators

Kirkwood, John Gamble, 1907-1959

Advised by Debye at University of Leipzig and both employed at Cornell University.

Onsager, Lars, 1903-1976

Advised by Debye at ETH Zurich.

Colleagues

Bersohn, Richard, 1925-2003

Both employed at Cornell University.

Corson, Dale R.

Both employed at Cornell University.

Fisher, Michael E. (Michael Ellis)

Both employed at Cornell University.

Additional

Alexander, Jerome, 1876-1959

Biermann, Ludwig, 1907-1986

Bloch, Felix, 1905-

Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962

Born, Max, 1882-1970

Bragg, William Henry, 1862-1942

Brillouin, Léon, 1889-1969

Brodskii, Aleksandr Il'ich, 1895-1969

Broglie, Louis de, 1892-1987

Bueche, Arthur Maynard, 1920-1981

Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962

Courant, Richard, 1888-1972

Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891-

Ehrenfest, Paul, 1880-1933

Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955

Epstein, Paul S. (Paul Sophus), 1883-1966

Ewald, Paul Peter, 1888-1985

Fajans, Kasimir, 1887-1975

Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954

Franck, James, 1882-1964

Frank, Charles, Sir

Friedrich, Walter, 1883-1968

Gerlach, Walther, 1889-1979

Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976

Herring, William Conyers, 1914-

Hess, Victor Francis, 1883-1964

Hildebrand, Joel Henry, 1881-1983

Hoddeson, Lillian

Hund, Friedrich, 1896-1997

Jordan, Pascual, 1902-1980

Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike, 1853-1926

Klein, Oskar

Korn, Arthur

Kuhn, Thomas S.

Kurti, Nicholas

Landé, Alfred, 1888-

Laporte, Otto, 1902-1971

Laue, Max von, 1879-1960

Loeb, Leonard B. (Leonard Benedict), 1891-

Lorentz, H. A. (Hendrik Antoon), 1853-1928

Nernst, Walther, 1864-1941

Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994

Pearson, Gerald L. (Gerald Leondus)

Peierls, Rudolf E. (Rudolf Ernst), 1907-1995

Planck, Max, 1858-1947

Rabi, I. I. (Isidor Isaac), 1898-1988

Richardson, O. W. (Owen Willans), 1879-1959

Rogowski, Fritz

Röntgen, Wilhelm Conrad, 1845-1923

Rozental, S. (Stefan)

Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937

Scherrer, Paul

Schrödinger, Annemarie, 1896-1965

Schrödinger, Erwin, 1887-1961

Smyth, Charles Phelps, 1895-1990

Sponer, Hertha, 1895-1968

Stark, Johannes, 1874-1957

Ueberreiter, Kurt, 1912-

Uhlenbeck, George Eugène, 1900-1988

Unsold, Albrecht, 1905-

Van Vleck, J. H. (John Hasbrouck), 1899-1980

Von Kármán, Theodore, 1881-1963

Weizsacker, Carl Friedrich, Freiherr von, 1912-2007

Wentzel, Gregor, 1898-1978

Institutions

Major Positions

Cornell University. Department of Chemistry

Chair, Department of Chemistry; Professor of Chemistry; and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry.

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Principal and Professor of Physics.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Professor of Physics.

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut fur Physik

Director.

Physikalische Zeitschrift

Editor.

Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht

Professor of Theoretical Physics.

Universität Göttingen

Professor of Theoretical Physics.

Universität Leipzig (1409-1953)

Professor of Physics and Director of the Physical Institute.

Universitat Zurich

Professor of Theoretical Physics.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

American Physical Society

Received 1965 Polymer Physics Prize.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Physics

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

Member.

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen

Received Dipl. Ing.

Universitat Munchen. Fakultat fur Physik

Received EE and PhD, and Lecturer.

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Ceremonial session [sound recording], 1965 March 26.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

History of quantum theory [sound recording] / 1966 March 16.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Holograph student notes, 1901, and lectures given at the Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht, 1912, and Universität Göttingen, 1914-1915, 1901-1915.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Lectures on quantum theory [microform], 1914-1918.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Peter J. W. Debye, 1962 May 3 and 4.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Peter J. W. Debye, 1965 December 22 to 16 June 1966.

Carl A. Kroch Library. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

Cornell University

2B Carl A Kroch Library, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Peter Debye lectures on quantum theory, 1914-1918.

Mathematisches Institut

Universität Göttingen

Bunsenstrasse 10, Göttingen

Peter J. W. Debye papers, 1901-1906 and 1918-1945.

Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften

Boltzmannstr. 14, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Peter J. W. Debye papers, 1920-1938.

Handschriftenabteilung

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zurich, Switzerland

Peter J. W. Debye papers, circa 1959-1966.

Carl A. Kroch Library. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

Cornell University

2B Carl A Kroch Library, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Subject

"Peter Joseph Wilhelm Debye: 1884-1966", Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences

Aleksandr Brodskii papers, 1896-1969 (bulk) 1920-1969.

Archive

Ukrainian Academy of Sciences

Vladimirskaja 62, Kiev 252601

Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 1898-1950 (bulk).

Library

American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Arthur Korn correspondence on mathematical physics, 1898-1932.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Arthur Korn correspondence, 1898-1934.

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Columbia University

Butler Library, 6th Floor East, New York, NY 10027, USA

Arthur M. Bueche autobiography, 1965.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

David Hilbert papers.

Abteilung für Handschriften und seltene Drucke

Niedersächsische Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Papendiek 14, D-37073 Göttingen

Henry H. Barschall response to 1981 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, 1982.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

International Science and Technology Journal interviews, 1962-1967.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Jerome Alexander correspondence, 1908-1953.

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

New York Public Library

Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018, USA

Johannes Stark correspondence, 1904-1927.

Deutsches Museum

Museumsinsel 1, 80306 Munich, Germany

Johannes Stark selected correspondence [microform], 1904-1927.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

John Clarke Slater papers, 1908-1976.

Library

American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Kasimir Fajans papers, 1912-1975.

Bentley Historical Library

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2113, USA

Lillian Hoddeson papers, 1904-2001.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Niels Bohr material collected elsewhere, 1912-1962.

Niels Bohr Archive

Blegdamsvej 17, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nobel laureates on scientific research project: oral history, 1964.

Oral History Research Office

Columbia University

Box 20, Room 801 Butler Library, New York, NY 10027, USA

O. W. Richardson papers, 1897-1959 (bulk 1920-1940).

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

University of Texas at Austin

P.O. Drawer 7219, Austin, TX 78713-7219, USA

Oral history interview with Albrecht Unsöld, 1978 June 6.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Alfred Landé, 1962 March 5, 6, 7, 8 and June 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Annamarie Bertel Schrödinger, 1963 April 5.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Carl Friedrich Weizsacker, 1978 April 18.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Carl Friedrich Weizsacker, 1985 May 9.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Carl Friedrich Weizsacker, 1986 January 28.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Charles P. Smyth, 1986 May 30.

The Beckman Center for History of Chemistry

Chemical Heritage Foundation

315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106-2702, USA

Oral history interview with Ernst Pascual Jordan, 1963 June 17, 18, 19 and 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Felix Bloch, 1964 May 14.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Felix Bloch, 1968 August 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Friedrich Hund, 1963 June 25 and 26.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Gerald Leondus Pearson, 1976 August 23 and 8 April 1980.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Gregor Wentzel, 1964 February 3 to 5.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with I. I. Rabi, 1963 December 8.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Joel Henry Hildebrand,, 1962 August 6.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Karl Friedrich (Fritz) Rogowski, 1982; 1983.

Deutsches Museum

Museumsinsel 1, 80306 Munich, Germany

Oral history interview with Kurt Ueberreiter, 1988 June 29.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Leonard B. Loeb, 1962 August 7.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Linus Carl Pauling, 1964 March 27.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Linus Pauling, 1984 May 10.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Oral history interview with Ludwig Franz Benedikt Biermann, 1978 June 23 and July 6.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Max Born, 1960 June 1, 1962 October 17 and 18.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Nicholas Kurti, 1968 September 11 and 1972 November 22.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Oskar Benjamin Klein, 1962 September 25 to 16 July 1963.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Otto Laporte, 1964 January 29 and 31.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Paul Peter Ewald, 1962 March 29 and May 8.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Paul Peter Ewald, 1968 May 17 and 24.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral History interview with Paul S. Epstein, 1965.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

1201 East California Blvd. (Mail Code 015A-74), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA

Oral history interview with Paul Sophus Epstein, 1962 May 25, 26 and June 2.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Richard Courant, 1962 May 9.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Rudolf Ernst Peierls, 1977 May 20.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Sir Charles Frank, 1981 July 31.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Sir Rudolf Ernst Peierls, 1963 June 17 and 18.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Stefan Rozental, 1971 August 27.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Theodore Von Karman, 1962 June 29.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Walter Friedrich, 1963 May 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Walther Gerlach, 1963 February 18 and 23.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Werner Heisenberg, 1962 November 30, 1963 February 7, 11, 13, 15, 19, 22, 25, 27, 28 and 1963 July 5, 12.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with William Conyers Herring, 1974 July 23, 29, and 31 October.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history joint interview with James Franck and Hertha Sponer-Franck, 1962 July 9 to 14.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Paul Ehrenfest papers [microform], 1903-1933.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Paul Scherrer papers, 1910-1960.

Handschriftenabteilung

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zurich, Switzerland

Peter J. W. Debye biography, undated.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Reminiscences of Peter Joseph William Debye : oral history, 1964.

Oral History Research Office

Columbia University

Box 20, Room 801 Butler Library, New York, NY 10027, USA

William Henry Bragg papers, 1889-1960.

Royal Institution of Great Britain

London, Englank UK

Published Resources

Author

Die Quantentheorie der spezifischen Wärme.

Die Welt der Strahlen.

Dipolmoment und chemische struktur.

Elektroneninterferenzen.

Kernphysik.

Magnetismus.

Methoden zur bestimmung der elektrischen und geometrischen struktur von molekülen; Nobelvortrag gehalten am 12. dezember 1936 in Stockholm

Molekulstruktur.

Polar molecules.

Polare Molekeln.

Probleme der modernen Physik : Arnold Sommerfeld zum 60. Geburtstage gewidmet von seinen Schülern

Struktur der Materie : vier Vortrage

The collected papers of Peter J.W. Debye.

The interference of electrons.

Vorträge über die kinetische theorie der materie und der elektrizität, gehalten in Göttingen auf einladung der Kommission der Wolfskehlstiftung.

Subject

"Fremde" Wissenschaftler im Dritten Reich : die Debye-Affäre im Kontext

"Peter Debye und die Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft," in Naturwissenschaften und Technik in der Geschichte, ed. Dieter Hoffmann, Fabio Bevilacqua, and Roger H. Stuewer (Stuttgart: Verlag für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und Technik: 1993), 161-177

"Peter Debye: A Life for Science," in Great Solid State Physicists of the 20th Century, ed. Julio A. Gonzalo and Carmen Aragó López (Singapore: World Scientific: 2003), 131-147

"Peter Debye: Nazi Collaborator or Secret Opponent?," Ambix 57 (2010): 275-300

"Peter Joseph Wilhelm Debye (1884-1966)," in Great Solid State Physicists of the 20th Century, ed. Julio A. Gonzalo and Carmen Aragó López (Singapore: World Scientific: 2003), 148-221

Nobel Prize biography

Peter Debye (1844-1966) : ein dossier / by Dieter Hoffmann.

Peter J. W. Debye Physics Today obituary.

Serving the Reich : the struggle for the soul of physics under Hitler / by Philip Ball.