Oskar Klein

Oskar Klein

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Oskar Benjamin Klein was a Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 theoretical physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...


Klein was born in Danderyd
Danderyd Municipality
Danderyd Municipality is a municipality just north of Stockholm in Stockholm County in east central Sweden. It is one of the smallest municipalities of Sweden, but the most affluent...

 outside Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, son of the chief rabbi of Stockholm, Dr. Gottlieb Klein from Homonna in Hungary and Antonie (Toni) Levy. He became a student of Svante Arrhenius
Svante Arrhenius
Svante August Arrhenius was a Swedish scientist, originally a physicist, but often referred to as a chemist, and one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry...

 at the Nobel Institute at a young age, and was on the way to Jean-Baptiste Perrin in France when World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 broke out and he was drafted into the military.

From 1917 he worked a few years with Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

 in Copenhagen
University of Copenhagen
The University of Copenhagen is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it has more than 37,000 students, the majority of whom are female , and more than 7,000 employees. The university has several campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the...

 and received his doctoral degree at the University College of Stockholm (now Stockholm University
Stockholm University
Stockholm University is a state university in Stockholm, Sweden. It has over 28,000 students at four faculties, making it one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. The institution is also frequently regarded as one of the top 100 universities in the world...

) in 1921. In 1923 he received a professorship at University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 344,791 as of 2010...

 and moved there with his recently wedded wife, Gerda Koch from Denmark. Klein returned to Copenhagen in 1925, spent some time with Paul Ehrenfest
Paul Ehrenfest
Paul Ehrenfest was an Austrian and Dutch physicist, who made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem.- Biography :Paul Ehrenfest was born and grew up in Vienna in a Jewish...

 in Leiden, then became docent
Docent is a title at some European universities to denote a specific academic appointment within a set structure of academic ranks below professor . Docent is also used at some universities generically for a person who has the right to teach...

 at Lund University
Lund University
Lund University , located in the city of Lund in the province of Scania, Sweden, is one of northern Europe's most prestigious universities and one of Scandinavia's largest institutions for education and research, frequently ranked among the world's top 100 universities...

 in 1926 and in 1930 accepted the offer of the professorial chair in physics at the Stockholm University College, which had previously been held by Ivar Fredholm until his death in 1927; Klein retired as professor emeritus in 1962. He was awarded 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:...

 in 1959.

Klein is credited for inventing the idea, part of Kaluza–Klein theory
Kaluza–Klein theory
In physics, Kaluza–Klein theory is a model that seeks to unify the two fundamental forces of gravitation and electromagnetism. The theory was first published in 1921. It was proposed by the mathematician Theodor Kaluza who extended general relativity to a five-dimensional spacetime...

, that extra dimension
In physics and mathematics, the dimension of a space or object is informally defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify any point within it. Thus a line has a dimension of one because only one coordinate is needed to specify a point on it...

s may be physically real but curled up and very small, an idea essential to string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 / M-theory
In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five string theories...


The Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture
Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture
The Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture at Stockholm University, dedicated to the memory of the Swedish physicist Oskar Klein , is held annually since 1988 by a prominent physicist, who also receives the Oskar Klein Medal...

, held annually at the University of Stockholm, has been named after him.

The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics in Stockholm, Sweden is named in his honor.

See also

  • Klein–Gordon equation
  • Klein–Nishina formula
  • Klein fluid
  • Alfvén–Klein model
  • Klein paradox
    Klein paradox
    In 1929, physicist Oskar Klein obtained a surprising result by applying the Dirac equation to the familiar problem of electron scattering from a potential barrier. In nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, electron tunneling into a barrier is observed, with exponential damping...

External links