Victor Francis Hess

Victor Francis Hess

Infobox Scientist
name = Victor Francis Hess

image_width = 170px
caption = Victor Francis Hess
birth_date = birth date|1883|6|24
birth_place = Waldstein Castle, near Peggau, Austria
death_date = death date and age|1964|12|17|1883|6|24
death_place = Mount Vernon, New York, USA
nationality = Austria, United States
field = Physics
work_institutions = University of Graz
Austrian Academy of Sciences
University of Innsbruck
Fordham University
alma_mater = University of Graz
known_for = discovery of cosmic rays
prizes = Nobel Prize in Physics 1936

Victor Francis Hess (June 24, 1883 – December 17, 1964) was an Austrian-American physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics, who with Carl David Anderson discovered cosmic rays.

Early life

Hess was born to Vinzens Hess and Serafine Edle von Grossbauer-Waldstätt, in Waldstein Castle, near Peggau in Styria, Austria. His father was a royal forester in Prince Öttingen-Wallerstein's service. He attended secondary school at Graz Gymnasium from 1893 to 1901.cite web|title=Victor Francis Hess Biography|url=|date=1936|work=The Nobel Foundation|accessdate=2007-10-04] cite book|last=Angelo|first=Joseph A|title=Nuclear Technology|url=|date=2004|pages=121-124|publisher=Greenwood Press|isbn=1573563366]

Academic life

From 1901 to 1905 Hess was an undergraduate student at the University of Graz, and continued postgraduate studies in physics until he received his PhD there in 1910. He worked as Assistant under Stephan Meyer at the Institute of Radium Research, Viennese Academy of Sciences, from 1910 to 1920. Hess took at leave of absence in 1921 and travelled to the United States, working at the US Radium Corporation, in New Jersey, and as Consulting Physicist for the US Bureau of Mines, in Washington DC. In 1923, he returned to the University of Graz, and was appointed the Ordinary Professor of Experimental Physics in 1925. The University of Innsbruck appointed him Professor, and Director Institute of Radiology, in 1931.

Hess relocated to the United States with his Jewish wife in 1938, in order to escape Nazi persecution. The same year Fordham University appointed him Professor of Physics, and he later became a naturalized United States citizen in 1944. Retiring from Fordham in 1956, Hess died on 17 December 1964, in Mount Vernon, New York, United States. [cite web|title=Commonly Asked Questions About Victor Francis Hess |url=|work=Encyclopædia Britannica |accessdate=2007-10-04]

Pioneering discovery

Between 1911 and 1913, Hess undertook the work that won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936. For many years, scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere. The assumption at the time was that the radiation would decrease as the distance from the earth, the source of the radiation, increased. The electroscopes previously used gave an approximate measurement of the radiation, but indicated that higher in the atmosphere the level of radiation may actually be more than that on the ground. Hess approached this mystery first by greatly increasing the precision of the measuring equipment, and then by personally taking the equipment aloft in a balloon. He systematically measured the radiation at altitudes up to 5.3 km during 1911-12. The daring flights were made both at day and during the night, at significant risk to himself.

The result of Hess's meticulous work was published in the Proceedings of the Viennese Academy of Sciences, and showed the level of radiation decreased up to an altitude of about 1 km, but above that the level increased considerably, with the radiation detected at 5 km about twice that at sea level. His conclusion was that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space, and his discovery was confirmed by Robert Andrews Millikan in 1925, who gave the radiation the name "cosmic rays". Hess's discovery opened the door to many new discoveries in nuclear physics.


*cite book | last=Hess | first=Victor F. | title=The Electrical Conductivity of the Atmosphere and Its Causes | date=1928 | publisher=Constable & Company | oclc=1900377

Honours and awards

*Lieben Prize (1919)
*Abbe Memorial Prize
*Abbe Medal of the Carl Zeiss Institute in Jena (1932)
*Nobel Prize in Physics (1936)


External links

* [ Biography and Nobel lecture (]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Victor Francis Hess — Victor Franz Hess Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hess. Victor Franz Hess Victor Franz Hess (24 juin 1883 – 17 décembre  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Victor Franz Hess — Victor Francis Hess (n. Waldstein, 24 de junio, 1883 – † Mount Vernon, Nueva York, 17 de diciembre, 1964). Físico austríaco. Estudió en la Universidad de Graz y en la Universidad de Viena. Tras finalizar sus estudios, fue profesor en las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hess, Victor Francis — born June 24, 1883, Waldstein, Styria, Austria died Dec. 17, 1964, Mount Vernon, N.Y., U.S. Austrian born U.S. physicist. He received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1906. His research dealt chiefly with radioactivity and… …   Universalium

  • Hess , Victor Francis — (1883–1964) Austrian–American physicist Hess, the son of a forester, was born at Waldstein in Austria and educated at the University of Graz where he obtained his doctorate in 1906. He worked at the Institute for Radium Research, Vienna, from… …   Scientists

  • Hess, Victor Francis — (24 jun. 1883, Waldstein, Styria, Austria–17 dic. 1964, Mount Vernon, N.Y., EE.UU.). Físico estadounidense de origen austríaco. Recibió su doctorado de la Universidad de Viena en 1906. Investigó sobre todo la radiactividad y la electricidad… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hess — Hess, Germain Henri Hess, Rudolf Hess, Victor Franz Hess, Walter Rudolph * * * (as used in expressions) Hess, (Walter Richard) Rudolf Hess, Victor Francis Hess, Walter Rudolf …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Hess (surname) — Hess or Heß as a surname may refer to: * András Hess, Hungarian printer * Damian Hess aka MC Frontalot, nerdcore rapper * Dean Hess (born 1917), American Air Force Colonel * Erika Hess (born 1962), Swiss alpine skier * Germain Henri Hess… …   Wikipedia

  • Hess — /hes/, n. 1. Dame Myra, 1890 1965, English pianist. 2. Victor Francis, 1883 1964, U.S. physicist, born in Austria: Nobel prize 1936. 3. Walter Rudolf, 1881 1973, Swiss physiologist: Nobel prize for medicine 1949. 4. (Walther Richard) Rudolf /vahl …   Universalium

  • Francis — Francis. Asteroide nº. 2050 de la serie (1974 KA), descubierto el 28 de mayo de 1974 por Eleanor Francis Helin desde Monte Palomar. La descubridora lo nombró en honor de sus padres Fred y Kay Francis. Lista de asteroides * * * Francis, turbina *… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Víctor — (del lat. «victor», vencedor) m. e interj. Vítor. * * * víctor. (Del lat. victor, vencedor). interj. vítor. U. t. c. s. * * * Víctor, san ► Nombre de varios papas y antipapas. ► Víctor I, san (m. 199) Pontífice romano en 189 199. Combatió el… …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.