Frisch, Karl von

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Frisch, Karl von

Frisch, Karl von (frĭsh), 1887–1982, Austrian zoologist, b. Vienna, Austria. He studied zoology with Richard von Hertwig, whom he later succeeded as professor of zoology at Munich Univ. For his pioneering work in comparative behavioral physiology, particularly his studies of the complex communication between insects, von Frisch was awarded the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. In his early work he showed that fish and honeybees can see colors, fish can hear, and bees can distinguish dozens of closely related floral scents. In 1923 he described as a simple language the round and waggle dances of honeybees. He found that round dances mean that food is nearby and waggle dances mean that there is food at a distance. The straight component of the waggle dance points the way to the food, and the duration of the dance indicates the distance. In some cases bees orient themselves by the direction of the sun or, if the sky is overcast, by the polarization of light from patches of blue sky. An important implication of von Frisch's work is that behavioral continuity exists between animal communication and human language.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Frisch, Karl von


Born Nov. 20, 1886, in Vienna. German physiologist (Federal Republic of Germany).

Frisch graduated from the University of Vienna in 1910. He received his doctoral degree in the same year. From 1914 to 1918, Frisch worked at the Red Cross Hospital in Vienna. He later worked at the universities of Rostock (1921–23), Breslau (1923–25; now Wroclaw), and Munich (from 1950, professor; from 1958, professor emeritus).

Frisch’s principal works deal with the sense organs of fish and insects. He has also studied the physiological and biological characteristics of bees. Frisch broadly applied the method of the formation of conditioned reflexes. In 1920–22 he published a series of works that were highly regarded by I. P. Pavlov. In his classic work, The Dancing Bees (1942), Frisch deciphered the mechanism by which bees communicate and orient themselves and determined how the insects determine direction of flight and distance to goals.

Frisch shared a Nobel Prize in 1973 with K. Lorenz and N. Tinbergen.


Die Tänze der Bienen. Österreichische Zoologische Zeitschrift, 1946, vol. 1, nos. 1–2.
Erinnerungen eines Biologen, 2nd ed. Berlin et al., 1962.
Tanzsprache und Orientierung der Bienen. Berlin et al., 1965.
Du und das Leben, 18th ed. Berlin et al., 1966.
Biologie, 3rd ed., vols. 1–2. Munich, 1967.
In Russian translation:
Iz zhiznipchel. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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