Nobel Prize in Physics. Max von Laue received notoriety for being the 1914 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. According to the Nobel Prize committee, the coveted prize was awarded to him, "for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals,” which led to the determination of chemical structures. He was the son of Julius von Laue, an official in the German military administration, who was raised to hereditary nobility in 1913. He studied chemistry, mathematics, and physics at the Universities of Strasbourg, Göttingen, and Munich and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Berlin in 1903 under Dr. Max Planck, who was a Nobel Prize in Physics recipient in 1918. He taught at the universities at Göttingen, Berlin, and Munich before being named professor at the University of Zurich in 1912. His prior research at Munich from 1909 to 1912 led to the award of the Nobel Prize in 1914. From 1914 to 1919, he was Professor at the University of Frankfurt, and in 1919, he was named Full Professor at the University of Berlin, where he remained until retirement in 1943. During World War II, he was openly anti-Nazi, helping other scientists oppressed by the Nazi regime to flee Germany and vocally opposing the Nazi's so-called "German Physics.” After the war, he was detained with nine other German scientists in England under the Allies' Operation Epsilon for a few months, as it was thought he had been a part of the Nazi atomic program. He was in England on August 6, 1945 when a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. After leaving England, he found a position in Göttingen as director of the former Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute, which was renamed in honor of his former preceptor in 1948 as The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. He was director of the Fritz Haber Institute from 1951 to 1959. He continued to do research for six months after his 80th birthday. Driving alone to the laboratory, his car was struck by a newly-licensed motorcycle driver on the Avus autobahn. Although he received injuries that became initially stable, he died in a few days from complications of the injuries.
Bio by: Kenneth Gilbert
Magda Degen von Laue