Helmholtz, Hermann (Ludwig Ferdinand) von
- James F. Bell
- , revised by Clive Greated
(b Potsdam, Aug 31, 1821; d Berlin, Sept 8, 1894). German scientist. He studied medicine at the Friedrich-Wilhelm Institut, Berlin, obtaining the doctorate in 1842. He also studied mathematics, physics and philosophy, and attended lectures at Berlin University. After service as an army surgeon, in 1848 he obtained a post in physiology and pathology at Königsberg University. Later he held a number of professorships: of anatomy and physiology at Bonn University (1855), of physiology at Heidelberg (1858), and of physics at Berlin (1871); in 1887 he became the founding director of the first institute of pure scientific research, the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt, Berlin. Helmholtz was an intellectual giant. His research covered such diverse topics as nerve impulses, colour blindness, vortex motion in the theory of fluids, and various aspects of electricity; he invented the ophthalmoscope; he created physiological optics and was a dominant figure in the area of acoustics....