Georg von Bekesy

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Bekesy, Georg von

Bekesy, Georg von (gāˈôrk fən bĕkˈĭshē), 1899–1972, American biophysicist, b. Budapest, Hungary, grad. Univ. of Budapest (Ph.D. 1923). He was (1923–46) a physicist in the research laboratory of the Hungarian telephone system and also taught (1932–46) at the Univ. of Budapest. From 1947 to 1949 he was a research professor at the Caroline Institute, Stockholm. In 1949 he became senior research fellow in the psychoacoustic laboratory at Harvard. He was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the physical mechanism of stimulation within the cochlea, a snail-shaped cavity of the inner ear.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Békésy, Georg Von


Born June 3, 1899, in Budapest; died June 13, 1972, in Honolulu, Hawaii. American physicist, biophysicist, and physiologist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States; member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A Hungarian by birth, Békésy studied at the University of Bern. After taking a degree at the University of Budapest in 1923, he engaged in research in Budapest, Berlin, and Stockholm. He emigrated to the United States in 1947.

Békésy’s principal works dealt with biophysics and with the physiology of hearing. He discovered the vibratory patterns induced in the basilar membrane of the cochlea by sound and formulated a theory of the initial amplitude-frequency analysis of sound performed in an organ of hearing. Békésy studied the transmission of sound in the middle ear and proposed a technique and a device (the Békésy audiometer) for testing hearing. Békésy investigated bone conduction of sound, hearing by space conduction, and perceptual contrast in sensory systems,

Békésy received a Nobel Prize in 1961 and was a member of the Leopoldina German Academy of Researchers in Natural Sciences.


Experiments in Hearing. New York, 1960.
Sensory Inhibition. New York, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Békésy, Georg von

(1899–1972) physiologist, physicist; born in Budapest, Hungary. He was concurrently a physicist at the University of Budapest and the Hungarian Post Office, which had charge of Hungary's newly installed telephone system (1923–46). There his work on improving telephone communication led to his later investigations of the mechanisms of human hearing. After the Russian takeover of Budapest, he went to the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (1946–47), then emigrated to the U.S.A. to join Harvard (1947–66), where he continued his studies of the human ear and how it transmits sounds to the brain. At the University of Hawaii (1966–72), he expanded his research to include other senses. In addition to receiving many awards for his pioneering investigations of aural physiology, he became the first physicist to win a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine (1961). He left his extensive art collection to the Nobel Foundation.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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