Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29: Gustav Mie

Gustav Adolf Feodor Wilhelm Ludwig Mie
September 29, 1869 – February 13, 1957

Gustav Mie was a German physicist.

Mie was born in Rostock. From 1886 he studied mathematics and physics at the University of Rostock. In addition to his major subjects, he also attended lectures in chemistry, zoology, geology, mineralogy, astronomy as well as logic and metaphysics. In 1889 he continued his studies at the University of Heidelberg and received a doctorate degree in mathematics at the age of 22.

In 1897 he got his Habilitation at the University of Göttingen in theoretical physics and in 1902 became extraordinary professor for theoretical physics at the University of Greifswald. In 1917 he became full professor for experimental physics at Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. In 1924 he became Professor at the University of Freiburg, where he worked up to his retirement in 1935.

During his Greifswald years he worked on the computation of scattering of an electromagnetic wave by a homogeneous dielectric sphere, which was published in 1908 under the title of “Contributions to the optics of turbid media, particularly of colloidal metal solutions” in Annalen der Physik. The term Mie scattering is still related to his name. Using Maxwell's electromagnetic theory applied to spherical Gold particles Gustav Mie provided a theoretical treatment of plasmon resonance absorption of Gold colloids. The sharp absorption bands depend on the particle size and explain the change in colour that occurs as the size of the colloid nanoparticles is increased from 20 to 1600 nm. He wrote further important contributions to electromagnetism and also to relativity theory.

In addition he was employed on measurements units and finally developed his Mie system of units in 1910 with the basic units Volt, Ampere, Coulomb and Second (VACS-system).

A crater on Mars was named in his honor and a building of the University of Freiburg carries his name.

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