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Table of Contents

Biography

AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects

Relationships

PeopleInstitutions

Resources

Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as AuthorPublished as Subject

Theodore Von Kármán

Photo

Dates

May 11, 1881 – May 7, 1963

Authorized Form of Name

Von Kármán, Theodore, 1881-1963, 1881-1963

Additional Forms of Names

Kármán, Th. v. (Theodore von), 1881-1963

Kármán, Theodor von, 1881-1963

Kármán, Theodore v. (Theodore von), 1881-1963

Kármán, Theodore von, 1881-1963

Kármán, Tódor, 1881-1963

Biography

Abstract

Theodore von Kármán was Director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories at California Institute of Technology (1930-1949). Other institutional affiliations include Aachen Aeronautical Institute. His research interests included aeronautical engineering and fluid dynamics.

Important Dates

May 11, 1881Birth, Budapest (Hungary).

1902Obtained ME, Royal Technical University, Budapest (Hungary).

1903 – 1906Research Engineer, Ganz and Company.

1903 – 1906Assistant Professor, Royal Technical University, Budapest.

1908Obtained PhD, University of Göttingen, Göttingen (Germany).

1909 – 1912Privatdozent, University of Göttingen.

1912 – 1928Consultant, Junkers Airplane Works.

1912 – 1929Director, Aachen Aeronautical Institute, Aachen (Germany).

1914 – 1918Officer, Austro-Hungarian Air Corps.

1924 – 1928Consultant, Luftschiffbau Zeppelin.

1926 – 1927Advisor and Consultant on Design, Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories, California Institute of Technology.

1926 – 1930Consultant, Handley-Page, Ltd..

1927 – 1929Consultant, Kawanishi Airplane Company.

1928 – 1963Research Associate (1928-1930); Director, Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories (1930-1949); Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1938-1945); and Professor Emeritus (1949-1963), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (Calif.).

1930 – 1935Director, Guggenheim Airship Institute, Akron (Ohio).

1933 – 1937Consultant, Special Committee to Investigate the Akron and Macon Dirrigible Disasters, United States Navy.

1934 – 1938Consultant, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

1938 – 1952Consultant, Ballistics Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, United States Army.

1939 – 1941Consultant, Wright Field, Army Air Corps, United States Army.

1939 – 1941Consultant, Smith-Putnam Wind Turbine for Development of Electricity.

1939 – 1942Consultant, Grand Coulee Dam Project.

1939 – 1947Consultant, Army Air Corps, United States Army.

1940 – 1960Consultant, General Electric Company.

1941 – 1943Consultant, High Speed Wind Tunnel, Boeing Aircraft Company.

1941 – 1949Consultant, Northrop Aircraft Company.

1942Consultant, Board to Investigate the Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, State of Washington.

1944 – 1963Chair (1944-1954) and Chair Emeritus (1954-1963), Scientific Advisory Board, United States Air Force.

1947 – 1963Consultant, United States Air Force.

1952 – 1963Chair, Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

1955 – 1963Consultant, Convair Division, General Dynamics Corporation.

1955 – 1963Scientific Director, General Applied Science Laboratories, Inc.

1956Member, National Academy of Sciences.

1957 – 1958Director, NAS-Air Research and Development Command Summer Study Groups, National Academy of Sciences and United States Air Force.

1958 – 1963Consultant and Chair, Technical Advisory Committee, Allison Division, General Motors Company.

1959Victor Emanuel Visiting Professor for Engineering, Cornell University.

1960 – 1963Consultant and Member, Board of Directors, Tool Research and Engineering Corporation.

1961Member, Board of Trustees, Washington Planetarium and Space Center.

1962Awarded National Medal of Science.

May 11, 1963Death, Aachen (Germany).

Occupation

Aeronautical engineer.

Places

Birth

Budapest (Hungary)

Graduate Education

Budapest (Hungary)

Göttingen (Germany)

Employment

Aachen (Germany)

Pasadena (Calif.)

Akron (Ohio)

Death

Aachen (Germany)

Subjects

Aerodynamics.

Aeronautics.

Fluid dynamics.

Fluid mechanics.

Mathematics.

Turbulence.

Relationships

People

Family

Konn, Helene

Mother.

Von Kármán, Maurice

Father.

Von Kármán, Pipö

Sister.

Advisors & Collaborators

Biot, Maurice A., (Maurice Anthony), 1905-

Co-wrote “Mathematical methods in engineering; an introduction to the mathematical treatment of engineering problems.”

Clauser, Francis Hettinger

Advised by Von Kármán at California Institute of Technology, "The effect of curvature on the transition from laminar to the turbulent boundary layer."

Hanle, Paul A.

Co-wrote “Bringing aerodynamics to America.”

Lin, C. C. (Chia-Chʻiao), 1916-2013

Advised by Von Kármán at California Institute of Technology, "On the development of turbulence," and both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Marble, Frank E.

Advised by Von Kármán at California Institute of Technology.

Prandtl, Ludwig

PhD advisor at University of Göttingen.

Sears, William Rees, 1913-2002

Advised by Von Kármán at California Institute of Technology.

Stewart, Homer J.

Advised by Von Kármán at California Institute of Technology "The effect of shear instability on the transverse circulation in the atmosphere."

Colleagues

Anderson, Carl D. (Carl David), 1905-1991

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox), 1905-2004

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bateman, Harry, 1882-1946

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Bitter, Francis, 1902-1967

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Christy, Robert F.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), 1892-1976

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

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

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Fowler, William A.

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Furry, W. H. (Wendell Hinkle), 1907-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Gordy, Walter, 1909-1985

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Houston, W. V. (William Vermillion), 1900-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Liepmann, H. W. (Hans Wolfgang), 1914-

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Millikan, Clark Blanchard, 1903-1966

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967

Both employed at California Institute of Technology.

Additional

Arnold, Henry Harley, 1886-1950

Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005

Born, Max, 1882-1970

Burgers, J. M. (Johannes Martinus), 1895-1981

Busemann, Adolf, 1901-

Charney, Jule G.

Courant, Richard, 1888-1972

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

Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955

Elsasser, Walter M., 1904-

Ford, Vincent, 1907-2001

Herzfeld, Karl F. (Karl Ferdinand), 1892-

Hilbert, David

Hunsaker, Jerome C. (Jerome Clarke), 1886-1984

Lenard, Philipp, 1862-1947

Nernst, Walther, 1864-1941

Norstad, Lauris, 1907-1988

Penner, S. S.

Pickering, W. H. (William Hayward), 1910-2004

Plesset, Milton S. (Milton Spinoza)

Stern, Marvin, 1923-

Ulam, Stanislaw M.

Yukawa, Hideki, 1907-1981

Institutions

Major Positions

Budapesti Műszaki Egyetem

Obtained ME (1902). Assistant Professor.

California Institute of Technology. Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy

Research Associate and Professor Emeritus.

Cornell University. College of Engineering

Victor Emanuel Visiting Professor for Engineering.

General Applied Science Laboratories (Westbury, Nassau County, N.Y.)

Scientific Director.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.)

Director, Advisor, and Consultant on Design, Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories and Director.

Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen

Director, Aachen Aeronautical Institute.

Universität Göttingen

Obtained PhD (1908). Privatdozent.

University of Akron

Director, Guggenheim Airship Institute.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

Aberdeen Proving Ground (Md.)

Consultant, Ballistics Research Laboratory.

Boeing Company

Consultant, High Speed Wind Tunnel.

General Dynamics Corporation.

Consultant, Convair Division.

General Electric Company. Research Laboratory

Consultant.

General Motors Corporation

Consultant and Chair, Technical Advisory Committee, Allison Division.

Handley Page (Firm)

Consultant.

Junkers airplanes

Consultant.

Luftschiffbau Zeppelin

Consultant.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Calif.)

Consultant.

National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)

Member and Director, NAS-Air Research and Development Command Summer Study Groups.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Chair, Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD).

Northrop Corporation

Consultant.

United States. Air Force

Consultant; Chair and Chair Emeritus, Scientific Advisory Board; and Director, NAS-Air Research and Development Command Summer Study Groups.

United States. Army Air Forces

Consultant.

United States. Army. Air Corps

Consultant, Wright Field.

United States. Department of the Interior

Consultant, Grand Coulee Dam Project.

United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

United States. Navy

Consultant, Special Committee to Investigate the Akron and Macon Dirigible Disasters.

Resources

Archival Resources

Author

Oral history interview with Theodore Von Karman, 1960.

Historical Research Center

United States Air Force

Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, 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

Stanislaw Ulam papers, 1916-1984.

Library.

American Philosophical Society

105 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA

Theodor Von Karman papers, circa 1899-1968.

Library. Special Collections Branch

United States Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, CO 80840-5701, USA

Theodore von Karman collection [microfiche], 1881-1963.

Archives Division

Smithsonian Institution. National Air and Space Museum

MRC 322, Washington, DC, 20560, USA

Theodore Von Karman papers, 1871-1963.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

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

Subject

Albert Einstein correspondence, 1926-1933.

Special Collections. Rare Books and Manuscripts

Yeshiva University Libraries

500 West 185th Street, New York, NY 10033, USA

David Hilbert papers.

Abteilung für Handschriften und seltene Drucke

Niedersächsische Staats-und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen

Papendiek 14, D-37073 Göttingen

Henry H. Arnold papers, 1903-1963 (bulk 1940-1946).

Manuscript Division

Library of Congress

James Madison Memorial Building, First Street and Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540, USA

J. M. Burgess papers.

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Marine Technology

Delft University of Technology.

Rotterdamsweg 145, 2628 AL Delft, Netherlands

Johannes M. Burgers autobiographical notes, 1954.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Johannes M. Burgers papers, circa 1912-1980.

Hornbake Library. Archives and Manuscripts Department

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742, USA

Journey to Russia, 1945.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Lauris Norstad papers, 1930-1987 (bulk 1942-1962).

Dwight D. Eisenhower Library

Abilene, KS 67410, USA

Lee A. DuBridge papers, 1932-1986.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

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

Oral history interview with Adolf Busemann, 1979 Summer.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Hans Bethe, 1982, 1993.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

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

Oral history interview with Homer J. Stewart, 1982 October to November and 1993 November 3.

Institute Archives.

California Institute of Technology

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

Oral history interview with Jule G. Charney, 1980 August 25, 26, 27 and 28.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Karl F. Herzfeld, 1978 May 11.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Lee A. DuBridge, Parts I and II, 1981.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

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

Oral history interview with Marvin Stern, 1987 May 1.

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 Milton Plesset, 1981 December 8.

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 Walter M. Elsasser, 1985 November 21.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Oral history interview with Walter M. Elsasser, 1986 March 12.

Archives

National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

PO Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, USA

Oral History interview with William H. Pickering, 1978.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Robert A. Millikan papers, 1821-1953.

Institute Archives

California Institute of Technology

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

Robert Millikan papers [microform], 1821-1953 (bulk 1921-1953).

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Stanford S. Penner papers, 1938-1998.

Mandeville Special Collections Library

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

The first twenty years [sound recording], 1962 : narrated by William E. Zisch, produced by Richard L. Spears.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Twenty-four minutes to checkmate, [unpublished manuscript] 1953-1957.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Library

Abilene, KS 67410, USA

Published Resources

Author

Bringing aerodynamics to America / Paul A. Hanle.

Collected works of Theodore Von Kármán, 1952-1963.

Die Quantentheorie der spezifischen Wärme / [von] Einstein, Debye, Born [und] Kármán.

Mathematical methods in engineering; an introduction to the mathematical treatment of engineering problems, by Theodore v. Kármán and Maurice A. Biot.

The wind and beyond : Theodore von Karman, pioneer in aviation and pathfinder in space / by Theodore von Karman with Lee Edson.

Subject

"Theodore von Kármán: 1906-1968", Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences

"Von Kármán between Aachen and Pasadena," Progress in Aerospace Sciences 59 (2013): 2-12.

The Martians of Science : five physicists who changed the twentieth century / István Hargittai.

The universal man : Theodore von Kármán's life in aeronautics / Michael H. Gorn.

Theodore von Kármán Physics Today obituary.