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Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt

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Encyclopedia
The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is based in Braunschweig (Brunswick) and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. It is the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology
Metrology
Metrology is the science of measurement. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. The word comes from Greek μέτρον , "measure" + "λόγος" , amongst others meaning "speech, oration, discourse, quote, study, calculation, reason"...

 and physical safety engineering in 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...

.

Part of its brief is the accurate measurement of time. It is responsible for four German caesium
Caesium
Caesium or cesium is the chemical element with the symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28 °C , which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at room temperature...

 atomic clocks, CS1, CS2, CSF1 and CSF2, and the longwave
Longwave
In radio, longwave refers to parts of radio spectrum with relatively long wavelengths. The term is a historic one dating from the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was considered to consist of long, medium and short wavelengths...

 time signal
Time signal
A time signal is a visible, audible, mechanical, or electronic signal used as a reference to determine the time of day.-Audible and visible time signals:...

 DCF77
DCF77
DCF77 is a longwave time signal and standard-frequency radio station. Its primary and backup transmitter are located in Mainflingen, about 25 km south-east of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is operated by Media Broadcast GmbH , on behalf of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Germany's...

. In addition, the PTB operates time servers for the distribution of time on the internet.

They are also responsible for the certification of voting machines
Certification of voting machines
Various governments require a certification of voting machines.In the United States there is only a voluntary federal certification for voting machines and each state has ultimate jurisdiction over certification, though most states currently require national certification for the voting...

 for the German federal and European elections.

History


The PTB was originally founded in 1887 as the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (PTR) (the Physical and Technical Institute of the German Reich). The goal of the organization was supervising and directing calibration
Calibration
Calibration is a comparison between measurements – one of known magnitude or correctness made or set with one device and another measurement made in as similar a way as possible with a second device....

 and establishing metrological standards. Research areas included spectroscopy
Spectroscopy
Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy. Historically, spectroscopy originated through the study of visible light dispersed according to its wavelength, e.g., by a prism. Later the concept was expanded greatly to comprise any interaction with radiative...

, photometry
Photometry (optics)
Photometry is the science of the measurement of light, in terms of its perceived brightness to the human eye. It is distinct from radiometry, which is the science of measurement of radiant energy in terms of absolute power; rather, in photometry, the radiant power at each wavelength is weighted by...

, electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

, and cryogenics
Cryogenics
In physics, cryogenics is the study of the production of very low temperature and the behavior of materials at those temperatures. A person who studies elements under extremely cold temperature is called a cryogenicist. Rather than the relative temperature scales of Celsius and Fahrenheit,...

. Werner von Siemens was instrumental in its establishment. Until 1934 the PTR was part of the Reichsinnenministerium (the Reich's Ministry of Interior Affairs). After 1934 it became part of the Reichserziehungsministerium
Reichserziehungsministerium
The Reichserziehungsministerium was officially known as the Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung .-Background:...

 (the Reich's Ministry of Education).

The Institute’s board of directors included Heinrich Konen
Heinrich Konen
Heinrich Matthias Konen was a German physicist who specialized in spectroscopy. He was a founder and organizer of the Emergency Association of German Science, and he was a member of the "Senate" of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the Reich Physical and Technical Institute, and the Reich Chemical and...

 and Walther Nernst
Walther Nernst
Walther Hermann Nernst FRS was a German physical chemist and physicist who is known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry...

 around 1930, Albert Einstein
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...

 (1917–1933), Ludwig Prandtl, and Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

, as well as representatives from Siemens AG
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

, Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

, and Zeiss. Its presidents were:
  • Hermann von Helmholtz
    Hermann von Helmholtz
    Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

     (1887–1892)
  • Friedrich Kohlrausch
    Friedrich Kohlrausch
    Friedrich Wilhelm Georg Kohlrausch was a German physicist who investigated the conductive properties of electrolytes and contributed to knowledge of their behaviour...

     (1892–1905)
  • Walther Nernst
    Walther Nernst
    Walther Hermann Nernst FRS was a German physical chemist and physicist who is known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry...

     (1922–1924)
  • Friedrich Paschen
    Friedrich Paschen
    Louis Karl Heinrich Friedrich Paschen , was a German physicist, known for his work on electrical discharges. He is also known for the Paschen series, a series of hydrogen spectral lines in the infrared region that he first observed in 1908...

     (1924–1933)
  • 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:...

     (1933–1939)
  • Abraham Esau
    Abraham Esau
    Robert Abraham Esau was a German physicist.After receipt of his doctorate from the University of Berlin, Esau worked at Telefunken, where he pioneered very high frequency waves used in radar, radio, and television, and he was president of the Deutscher Telefunken Verband...

     (1939–1945).


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...

 was the Physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 advisor from 1925 to December 1933.

In 1932 the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt had 292 employees; 443 in 1937 and around 1942 over 500. After the end 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 1945 it was renamed to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (the Federal Institute of Physical and Technical Affairs) and serves as the national metrology
Metrology
Metrology is the science of measurement. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. The word comes from Greek μέτρον , "measure" + "λόγος" , amongst others meaning "speech, oration, discourse, quote, study, calculation, reason"...

institute.