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Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft

Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft

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The Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG, German Physical Society) is the world's largest organization of physicists. The DPG's worldwide membership is cited as 60,000, as of 2011. It holds an annual conference (Jahrestagung) and multiple spring conferences (Frühjahrstagungen), which are held at various locations and along topical subjects of given sections of the DPG.

Formation and History


The DPG was founded in 1899 to succeed the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin (Physical Society of Berlin) established 14 January 1845. The six scientists who founded the Physical Society of Berlin were: Gustav Karsten (1820–1900, physicist), Wilhelm Heinrich Heintz
Wilhelm Heinrich Heintz
Wilhelm Heinrich Heintz was a German structural chemist who earned his PhD at Berlin in 1844 under Heinrich Rose.He was one of six founding members of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft and the only chemist....

 (1817–1880, chemist), Karl-Hermann Knoblauch
Karl-Hermann Knoblauch
Karl Hermann Knoblauch was a German physicist. He is most notable for his studies of radiant heat. He was one of the six founding members of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft at Berlin on 14 January 1845....

 (1820–1895, physicist), Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke
Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke
Ernst Wilhelm Ritter von Brücke was a German physician and physiologist.He was born Ernst Wilhelm Brücke in Berlin. He graduated in medicine at University of Berlin in 1842, the following year he became esearch assistant to Johannes Peter Müller...

 (1819–1892, physiologist), Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond was a German physician and physiologist, the discoverer of nerve action potential, and the father of experimental electrophysiology.-Life:...

 (1818–1896, physiologist), and Wilhelm von Beetz (1822–1886, physicist). While only three of them were physicists, they were all under 28 years old and students of the physicist Heinrich Gustav Magnus. The purpose of starting the Society was to set themselves apart from the authorities and allow unfettered discussion away from the well-trodden paths.
The DPG sees itself as the forum and mouthpiece for physics and is a non-profit organisation that does not pursue financial interests. It supports the sharing of ideas and thoughts within the scientific community, fosters physics teaching and would also like to open a window to physics for all those with a healthy curiosity. The DPG brings together professors, students and teachers, those working in industry and those who are simply interested in physics as such, as well as science journalists and patent agents. At present the DPG counts nine Nobel Prize winners in its ranks. The Society has always had world-famous members, including Albert Einstein, Hermann von Helmholtz and Max Planck as former DPG Presidents for example. The DPG is funded primarily by membership fees. It also receives financial support for its activities from state and national sources, as well as non-profit organisations. The DPG cooperates on a particularly close scale with the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation.

Conferences and fostering young talent


The DPG itself does not carry out any research, but its conferences promote the sharing of information about the latest findings in the field of physics. The traditional "Spring Meetings" held by the DPG year for year at various venues across the country are attended by around 9,000 experts from Germany and abroad. The largest physics conference in Europe is regularly among these conferences. Fostering young talent is another central concern of the DPG so that its conferences provide a platform particularly for the young generation. They offer students an opportunity to meet renowned scientists in person. Furthermore, the DPG runs a nationwide network for physics students in the working group "Young DPG". Women also have a forum of their own with the "German Conference of Women in Physics" which is held every year.

Awards and school projects


The DPG honours outstanding achievements in physics with awards of international repute. The two most important awards are the "Max-Planck-Medal for Theoretical Physics” and the "Stern-Gerlach-Medal for Experimental Physics”. Some awards such as the "Gustav-Hertz-Award for Young Physicists" intend to foster young talent, while others are awarded by the DPG in cooperation with other organisations in Germany and abroad, such as the "Otto Hahn Prize". The "Medal for Natural Science Journalism” is awarded by the DPG to personalities who have made a special contribution to bringing scientific facts to the attention of the general public. In addition, the DPG awards prizes to school graduates throughout the country for outstanding achievements in physics. It supports competitions for school students such as "Jugend forscht" (national research contest for young scientists), promotes innovative school projects and organises advanced training courses for teaching staff.

Magazines and publications


The DPG produces a range of various publications. The membership journal of the DPG “Physik Journal” provides news reports from the DPG and about physics in general. Besides, the DPG joins forces with the British Institute of Physics to publish the electronic magazine “New Journal of Physics”. This open-access magazine is available online at www.njp.org. All articles can be read and downloaded free of charge. The articles published here have gone through a strict peer review in line with the stringent scientific quality standards propounded by the New Journal of Physics. Moreover, the DPG also publishes its conference programme every year under the name "VERHANDLUNGEN der DPG" (Programme Booklets for DPG Conferences), listing the abstracts of around 8,000 papers. And the web portal www.welt-der-physik.de operated jointly by the DPG and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides lots of information about physics even for nonexperts.

Physics and public relations


The DPG plays an active role in the dialogue between science and the general public with a range of popular scientific publications and public events. These activities also include the “Highlights of Physics”. The annual physics festival organised jointly by the DPG and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is the largest of its kind in Germany with around 20,000 visitors every year.

Studies and social commitment


The DPG engages in socio-political discussions by releasing press statements, carrying out studies, giving statements and attending parliamentary evenings. It deals with current issues such as fostering young talent, climate protection, energy supply or arms control through to science and cultural history issues. The DPG is very particularly committed to equal opportunities for men and women and to promote women in natural sciences.

In Bonn and Berlin


The DPG office headed by the Chief Executive Bernhard Nunner is located in the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef (physics conference centre in Bad Honnef), in the neighbourhood of the university and federal city of Bonn. The Physikzentrum is not only a meeting place and discussion forum of outstanding significance for physics in Germany but also an international brand for the discipline of physics. Students and cutting edge scientists through to Nobel Prize winners meet here to share their thoughts and ideas on a scientific level. Teaching staffs also gladly come to Bad Honnef time and again to attend advanced training courses relating to pure physics and the didactic aspects of this discipline, in the seminars held by the DPG. The DPG is also present in Germany's capital Berlin. It has been running the Magnus-Haus in Berlin since its reunification with the Physical Society of East Germany in 1990. This urban palace completed in 1760 - bearing the name of the natural scientist Gustav Magnus - has close links to the history of the DPG: it was the regular meeting place of scholars during the 19th century that eventually resulted in the "Physical Society of Berlin" being founded in 1845, which later became the DPG. Today it is a venue for meetings and lectures on physical and socio-political issues. The Magnus-Haus is also home to the DPG's historical archive.

Under National Socialism


The DPG was in opposition to National Socialism’s
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 persecution of the Jews in general, and their promotion of Deutsche Physik
Deutsche Physik
Deutsche Physik or Aryan Physics was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein, labeled "Jewish Physics"...

, in particular. On 7 April 1933, barely two months after Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 seized power on 30 January 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , also known as Civil Service Law, Civil Service Restoration Act, and Law to Re-establish the Civil Service, was a law passed by the National Socialist regime on April 7, 1933, two months after Adolf...

, was passed; under this law, Jewish civil servants and regime opponents were removed from their jobs. These policies had significant effects on physics in Germany through significant qualitative and quantitative losses of physicists as a result of emigration and through political decisions overriding those based on academic and scientific considerations; 25% of the physicists holding academic positions in the period 1932-1933 were lost due to the policies. The opposition can be illustrated by just a few examples, such as the DPG not immediately dismissing Jews after passage of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, Max von Laue’s
Max von Laue
Max Theodor Felix von Laue was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals...

 address at the opening of the 1933 physics convention in Würzburg, opposition to Johannes Stark
Johannes Stark
Johannes Stark was a German physicist, and Physics Nobel Prize laureate who was closely involved with the Deutsche Physik movement under the Nazi regime.-Early years:...

 exercising the Führerprinzip in attempting to become the dictator of physics, and Carl Ramsauer’s
Carl Ramsauer
Carl Wilhelm Ramsauer was an internationally notable professor of physics and research physicist, famous for the discovery of the Ramsauer-Townsend effect...

 opposition to the politicization of education:
  • When the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was passed in 1933, the DPG dragged its feet in the dismissal of Jews for more than five years. It was not until the end of 1938, on the initiation of Herbert Stuart and Wilhelm Orthmann
    Wilhelm Orthmann
    Wilhelm Orthmann was a German physicist. He was director of the physico-technical department of the Industrial College of Berlin...

    , that the DPG asked Jewish members to withdraw their membership.

  • Max von Laue
    Max von Laue
    Max Theodor Felix von Laue was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals...

    , as chairman of the DPG, gave the opening address at the 1933 physics convention held in Würzburg
    Würzburg
    Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located at the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian....

    . In it, he compared the persecution of Galileo and the oppression of his scientific views on the Solar theory of Copernicus to the then conflict and persecution over the theory of relativity by the proponents of Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik or Aryan Physics was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein, labeled "Jewish Physics"...

    , against Einstein’s
    Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

     theory of relativity
    Theory of relativity
    The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

    , labeled as “Jewish physics.”

  • Johannes Stark
    Johannes Stark
    Johannes Stark was a German physicist, and Physics Nobel Prize laureate who was closely involved with the Deutsche Physik movement under the Nazi regime.-Early years:...

    , a holder of the Nobel Prize in Physics
    Nobel Prize in Physics
    The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

    , was a proponent of Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik or Aryan Physics was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein, labeled "Jewish Physics"...

    . Acting under the Führerprinzip
    Führerprinzip
    The Führerprinzip , German for "leader principle", prescribes the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich...

    , Stark attempted to become “dictator of physics,” as part of a plan to reorganize and coordinate German scientific societies to National Socialist ideology and policies. These actions brought opposition from members of the DPG. For example, Max von Laue
    Max von Laue
    Max Theodor Felix von Laue was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals...

    , in 1933, blocked Stark’s regular membership in the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften
    Prussian Academy of Sciences
    The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

    . Furthermore, also in 1933, Stark, President of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt
    Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
    The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt is based in Braunschweig and Berlin. It is the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology and physical safety engineering in Germany....

     (PTR), ran for president of the DPG against Karl Mey, the industrial physicist and head of Osram
    Osram
    Osram, founded 1919, is part of the industry sector of Siemens AG and one of the two leading lighting manufacturers in the world. The name is derived from osmium and Wolfram , as both these elements were commonly used for lighting filaments at the time the company was founded...

    . Stark received only two votes! In retribution, Stark canceled the DPG’s use of its rooms in the PTR, deleted PTR travel expenses for its personnel to attend DPG meetings, and forbade PTR personnel from lecturing at DPG meetings.

  • Carl Ramsauer
    Carl Ramsauer
    Carl Wilhelm Ramsauer was an internationally notable professor of physics and research physicist, famous for the discovery of the Ramsauer-Townsend effect...

    , president of the DPG 1940 to 1945, and his deputy, Wolfgang Finkelnburg, steered a relatively independent course from the party line of the National Socialists and against Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik
    Deutsche Physik or Aryan Physics was a nationalist movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein, labeled "Jewish Physics"...

    , which was anti-Semitic and anti-theoretical physics, especially including modern physics, i.e., quantum mechanics
    Quantum mechanics
    Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

    . Early in 1942, as chairman of the DPG, Ramsauer, on Felix Klein’s initiative and with the support of Ludwig Prandtl, submitted a petition to Reich Minister Bernhard Rust
    Bernhard Rust
    Dr. Bernhard Rust was Minister of Science, Education and National Culture in Nazi Germany. A combination of school administrator and zealous Nazi, he issued decrees, often bizarre, at every level of the German educational system to immerse German youth in the National Socialist philosophy...

    , at the Reichserziehungsministerium
    Reichserziehungsministerium
    The Reichserziehungsministerium was officially known as the Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung .-Background:...

     (Reich Education Ministry). The petition, a letter and six attachments, addressed the atrocious state of physics instruction in Germany, which Ramsauer concluded was the result of politicization of education.

Reunification


After the conclusion of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, in 1946, von Laue initiated the founding of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft in only the British Zone, as the Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council
The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers , was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Europe...

 would not initially allow organizations across occupation zone boundaries. The DPG was eventually also reinstituted individually in the American and French sectors. These individually established organizations were united in West Germany in 1950, only after the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 on 23 May 1949. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 that the DPG again fully unified across Germany.

Presidents


With emphasis on the periods of the rise of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics in Germany (1900 to 1933) and the rule of the National Socialists (1933–1945), the Presidents of the DPG have included:

Publications


Publications of the DPG have included:
  • Berichte der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft
  • Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft
  • Physikalische Blätter
    Physikalische Blätter
    The Physikalische Blätter was an official journal of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.-History:The Physikalische Blätter was founded in 1943 by Ernst Brüche, who was also the editor from 1944 to 1972. At the start, it was issued by the Informationsstelle Deutscher Physiker...

    now called Physik Journal
  • Fortschritte der Physik
  • Zeitschrift für Physik
    Zeitschrift für Physik
    The European Physical Journal is a joint publication of EDP Sciences, Springer Science+Business Media, and the Società Italiana di Fisica...

    , which was first published in 1920 and was the vehicle used by those with avant-garde views and the young generation of quantum physicists in the 1920s.

Awards and Prizes


The highest awards which are presented by the DPG are the Max Planck Medal
Max Planck medal
The Max Planck medal is an award for extraordinary achievements in theoretical physics. It is awarded annually by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft , the world's largest organization of physicists.-List of recipients:...

 for work in theoretical physics, first awarded in 1929, and the Stern–Gerlach Medal for work in experimental physics, first awarded in 1933. There are also several others prizes, such as the Walter Schottky Prize
Walter Schottky Prize
The Walter Schottky Prize is the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft's highest award for outstanding research work in solid-state physics. Since 1973 the prize is annually awarded. The endowment of the prize with 15,000 euros is supported by Siemens AG and Infineon Technologies and is the most...

 and Gustav Hertz Prize.

Further reading

  • Beyerchen, Alan D. Scientists Under Hitler: Politics and the Physics Community in the Third Reich (Yale, 1977) ISBN 0-300-01830-4
  • Heilbron, J. L. The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science (Harvard, 2000) ISBN 0-674-00439-6
  • Hentschel, Klaus, editor and Ann M. Hentschel, editorial assistant and Translator Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) ISBN 0-8176-5312-0
  • Hoffmann, Dieter Between Autonomy and Accommodation: The German Physical Society during the Third Reich, Physics in Perspective 7(3) 293-329 (2005)
  • Jungnickel, Christa and Russell McCormmach. Intellectual Mastery of Nature. Theoretical Physics from Ohm to Einstein, Volume 2: The Now Mighty Theoretical Physics, 1870 to 1925. (University of Chicago Press, Paper cover, 1990) ISBN 0-226-41585-6
  • Kragh, Helge Quantum Generations: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 1999) ISBN 0-691-09552-3