Stern, Otto(stûrn, Ger. ô`tō shtĕrn), 1888–1969, American physicist, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Breslau, 1912. After resigning from his post at the Univ. of Hamburg in 1933, he became professor of physics at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and later professor emeritus at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. Stern was an outstanding experimental physicist; his contributions included development of the molecular-beam method, discovery of space quantization (with Gerlach, 1922), measurement of atomic magnetic moments, demonstration of the wave nature of atoms and molecules, and discovery of the proton's magnetic moment. He was awarded the 1943 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Born Feb. 17, 1888, in Sorau (Żary), Silesia; died Aug. 17, 1969, in Berkeley, Calif. Physicist.
Stern graduated from the University of Breslau (Wroclaw) in 1912. He joined the staff of the University of Frankfurt in 1920 as a docent and subsequently became a professor there. He was named a professor at the University of Rostock in 1922. From 1923 to 1933, Stern was a professor at the University of Hamburg and director of its physicochemical laboratory. He then emigrated to the United States; from 1933 to 1945 he was a professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.
Stern’s principal works were devoted to nuclear physics, quantum physics, and thermodynamics. In 1920, in what is now called the Stern-Zartman experiment, he became the first to measure directly the velocities of molecules. In 1921 he suggested the possibility of experimentally verifying the space quantization of the magnetic moment of an atom; together with the German physicist W. Gerlach, he performed the verification, a report of which was published in 1922. In 1933, Stern and the German physicist O. R. Frisch became the first to measure the magnetic moment of a proton in the H2 molecule. The method of molecular or atomic beams was developed by Stern and his colleagues. Stern received a Nobel Prize in 1943.