Herzberg, Gerhard

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Herzberg, Gerhard

(gĕr`härt hûrts`bûrg), 1904–99, Canadian physicist, b. Hamburg, Germany. He studied at Darmstadt, Göttingen, and Bristol, England, receiving a doctorate in engineering physics from Darmstadt Technical Institute in 1928. He started as a lecturer at Darmstadt but because of Nazi persecution left (1935) for the Univ. of Saskatchewan. Applying spectroscopic study to astronomy, he succeeded in analyzing and matching the spectrum of the CH+ ion with a previously unidentified spectrum from outer space, pioneering the analysis of stars, planetary atmospheres, and interstellar matter by spectrographic technology. In 1945 Herzberg joined the Yerkes Observatory of the Univ. of Chicago, where he continued his spectroscopic studies. From 1948 to 1994, he was on the staff of the National Research Council (NRC). Herzberg received the 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research into the electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals, which had important implications in such diverse fields as astrophysics, biology, chemistry, medicine, and physics. The NRC established the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Ottawa in his honor in 1975. His three-volume Molecular Spectra and Molecular Structure (2d ed. 1992) is the seminal work in the field.

Herzberg, Gerhard


Born Dec. 25, 1904, in Hamburg. Canadian physicist.

Herzberg studied at the Darmstadt Institute of Technology and at the universities of Góttingen and Bristol. In 1930 he became a lecturer at the Darmstadt Institute of Technology. He emigrated to Canada in 1935. From 1935 to 1945, he was a professor at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1945, Herzberg became a professor at the University of Chicago. In 1949 he was made the director of the Division of Physics of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. He became the president of the Canadian Association of Physicists in 1956. From 1957 to 1963, he was the vice-president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

Herzberg’s main works deal with atomic and molecular spectroscopy. Herzberg wrote monographs that became world-renowned and a large number of journal papers in spectroscopy.

In 1971, Herzberg received the Nobel Prize in chemistry.


In Russian translation:
Atomnye spektry i stroenie atomov. Moscow, 1948.
Spektry i stroenie dvukhatomnykh molekul. Moscow, 1949.
Kolebatel’nye i vrashchatel’nye spektry mnogoatomnykh molekul. Moscow, 1949.
Elektronnye spektry i stroenie mnogoatomnykh molekul. Moscow, 1969.
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