Nominated 84 Times For Nobel Prize But Never Won

10 Facts About Arnold Sommerfeld That You Should Know

arnold sommerfeld genius facts

If there was anybody close to Einstein's genius, it was his compatriot Arnold Sommerfeld. In fact, despite being 10 years his senior, Sommerfeld was more welcoming of the new quantum theory. Besides, he also made many pioneering contributions to it.

Also, did you know that Sommerfeld served in the military for 9 years before becoming a full-time physics professor? Just like that, following are ten more amazing facts from his life as a tribute to the most under-appreciated physics brain.


1. Since childhood, Arnold Sommerfeld was a quick learner. He received his PhD in physics when he was only 22 years old.

2. He was among the first to acknowledge the validity of Einstein's relativity. His support helped it propel into more of an "accepted status" in the scientific community.

3. Sommerfeld received 84 nominations for Nobel Prize in physics (more than any other physicist) but surprisingly, he never won.

4. Yet, he won many times through those he educated and inspired, including (but not limited to) Heisenberg, Pauli, Debye and Bethe.


5. He was the one who introduced the second and the third quantum numbers. They're important because of their use in determining the electron configuration inside an atom.

6. Einstein once told Sommerfeld: "What I especially admire about you is that you have pounded out of the soil such a large number of young talents."

7. Sommerfeld encouraged collaboration from his students. He would home tutor them or meet at a local café to discuss their doubts after a lecture. His successful teaching career was 32 years long.


8. Sommerfeld was also a traveler who traveled around the world in two years (1928-1929) with major stops in India, China, Japan and the US.

9. He wrote to Einstein shortly after Hitler took power: "I can assure you that the misuse of the word ‘national’ by our rulers has thoroughly broken me of the habit of national feelings that was so pronounced in my case."

10. Sommerfeld died in 1951 in Munich after getting hit by a truck while he was walking with his grandchildren. He was 82 years old.

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