Peter Joseph Wilhelm Debye

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Debye, Peter Joseph Wilhelm


Born Mar. 24, 1884, in Maastricht; died Nov. 2, 1966, in Ithaca, US. Physicist. Dutch by nationality.

Debye graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Aachen in 1905 and from the University of Munich in 1910. He was a professor in Zürich (1911 and 1920), Utrecht (1912), Göttingen (1914), Leipzig (1927), and Berlin (1935). He was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics in Berlin (1935). From 1940 he was a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N. Y.

In 1912, Debye proposed a model of a solid, with the aid of which he proved that at low temperatures the specific heat of a crystal lattice is proportional to the cube of the absolute temperature; he also furnished a theory of heat conductivity of dielectric crystals. Using this model, he introduced the concept of the so-called Debye temperature. He also developed the dipole theory of dielectrics, based on the consideration of molecules as rigid dipoles. His method of observing X-ray interference in crystalline powders and liquids (the Debye-Scherrer method) found practical application in investigations of the structure of substances. Debye’s work includes a number of publications on the solid-state theory, atomic theory, and the theory of the conductivity of electrolytes. A unit used in measuring dipole moments was named a debye. A winner of a Nobel Prize (1936), he was a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1924).


In Russian translation:
Poliarnyie molekuly
. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.


Laue, M. von. “Zu Peter Debyes 70. Geburtstage.” Zeitschrift für Electrochemie, 1958, vol. 58, fasc. 3.
Farber, E. Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry 1901–1961. London, 1963. Page 147.
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Ball identifies three prominent physicists, Peter Debye, Max Planck, and Werner Heisenberg, to illustrate a range of responses.
Among his distinguished speakers were Peter Debye and Linus Pauling.
Es importante su participacion en las sesiones de la Sociedad Cientifica Antonio Alzate cuando venia a Mexico, el otorgamiento de la beca de la Fundacion Guggenheim le permitio ir a Berlin y trabajar con estudiosos como Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, continuo su ruta de aprendizaje en Leipzig para conocer a Werner Heisenberg y a Peter Debye.
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Four of his doctoral students (Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Peter Debye, and Hans Bethe) and two post-doctoral students (Linus Pauling and Isidor Rabi) were to become Nobel Laureates.