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Biography of Lenard, Philipp Eduard Anton

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Lenard, Philipp Eduard Anton

7 Jun 1862 - 20 May 1947

Lenard, Philipp Eduard Anton was a German experimental physicist born in Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slovakia), Austria-Hungary on July 7 1862

His father wanted him to succeed into his wine merchant business but Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen's lecture, which he listened to in Heidelberg in 1883, made Lenard decide to study Physics at the University of Heidelberg and later at the University of Berlin.

He obtained his doctoral degree in 1886 and started his research work as an assistant at the University of Heidelberg. He was working under H.R.Hertz at the University of Bonn in 1891. Hertz found that cathode rays pass through metal foil and Lenard invented the cathode ray tube (Lenard tube) with a thin aluminum window (aka Lenard window) that permits the rays to escape. This tube enabled cathode rays to pass into the open air.

Lenard theorized that cathode rays consist of negatively charged particles. There was a controversy between him and J.J Thomson regarding who discovered the electron. He proposed a model of an atom so called "dynamids".

He rejected the word "X-ray" because Roentgen did not quote him by name. Lenard presumed that Roentgen had used the Lenard tube when X-rays were discovered.

After posts at Breslau (1894-1895), Heidelberg (1896-1898), and Kiel (1898-1907), he became a professor at the University of Heidelberg in 1907 and supervised the physics and X-ray laboratory.

He conducted important research on the photoelectric effect in 1902 and won the Nobel Prize in 1905 for his research on cathode rays.

The new laboratory of the University of Heidelberg was completed just before WWI and it was named as the Philipp Lenard Institute. His nationalism became significant in around 1914. He despised English physicists as Lenard considered that they had stolen their ideas without giving them credit.

After the war he campaigned against the Weimarer Republic. He was against Jews and made a personal attack against Albert Einstein at an academic meeting held in 1920. During the Nazi regime, he denounced "The theory of relativity" as "Jewish physics" in order to promote "Deutsche Physik". Some say that he is blamed for the decline of physics in Germany after WWII.

[Reference] Encyclopedia of physics
Author: Masaharu Nemoto
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