Manfred Eigen

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Manfred Eigen
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Bochum, Weimar Republic>Germany20190605df=y}}|death_place = Göttingen, Germany|residence = Germany>German|alma_mater = University of Göttingen| thesis_title = Ermittlung der molekularen Struktur reiner Flüssigkeiten und Lösungen aus thermischen und kalorischen Eigenschaften| thesis_url =weblink| thesis_year = 1951Arnold Eucken{{MathGenealogy>id=57934}}Geoffrey W. Hoffmann>Geoffrey Hoffmann weblink|Official listing at Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry }}|field = Biophysical chemistry }}File:Koninginnen, onderscheidingen, Beatrix (koningin Nederland), Bestanddeelnr 932-6825.jpg|{{largethumb}}|Dutch Queen Beatrix meets five Nobel prize winners (1983): Paul Berg, Christian de Duve, Steven Weinberg, Manfred Eigen & Nicolaas BloembergenNicolaas BloembergenManfred Eigen (9 May 1927 – 6 February 2019) was a German biophysical chemist who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in Chemistry{{Citation|pmid=4860395|last=Weisskopf|first=V. F.|last2=Eyring|first2=H.|last3=Eyring|first3=E. M.|publication-date=10 November 1967|year=1967|title=Nobel Prizes: 4 named for international award (Hans Bethe, Manfred Eigen, R.G. Norrish, George Porter)|volume=158|issue=3802|periodical=Science|pages=745–8|doi=10.1126/science.158.3802.745|bibcode=1967Sci...158..745W}} for work on measuring fast chemical reactions.{{Citation|pmid=3300805|last=Winkler-Oswatitsch|first=R.|publication-date=9 May 1987|year=1987|title=Manfred Eigen. Scientist and musician|volume=26|issue=2–3|periodical=Biophys. Chem.|pages=109–15|doi=10.1016/0301-4622(87)80015-7}}Eigen's research helped solve major problems in physical chemistry and aided in the understanding of chemical processes that occur in living organisms.In later years, he explored the biochemical roots of life and evolution. He worked to install a multidisciplinary program at the Max Planck Institute to study the underpinnings of life at the molecular level. His work was hailed for creating a new scientific and technological discipline: evolutionary biotechnology.

Education and early life

Eigen was born on 9 May 1927 in Bochum,{{Citation|pmid=3300802|publication-date=9 May 1987|year=1987|title=Manfred Eigen Festschrift: special issue dedicated to Professor Manfred Eigen on the occasion of his 60th birthday|volume=26|issue=2–3|periodical=Biophys. Chem.|pages=101–390}}{{Citation|pmid=17029872|last=Schlögl|first=R. W.|publication-date=30 June 1997|year=1997|title=To Manfred Eigen on his 70th birthday|volume=66|issue=2–3|periodical=Biophys. Chem.|pages=71–3|doi = 10.1016/S0301-4622(97)00075-6}} the son of Hedwig (Feld) and Ernst Eigen, a chamber musician. As a child he developed a deep passion for music, and studied piano.World War II interrupted his formal education. At age fifteen he was drafted into service in a German antiaircraft unit. He was captured by the Soviets toward the end of the war. He managed to escape (he said later that escape was relatively easy), and walked hundreds of miles across defeated Germany, arriving in Göttingen in 1945. He lacked the necessary documentation for acceptance to university,BOOK, Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention, Czikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Harper Perennial, 2013, 54, but was admitted after he demonstrated his knowledge in an exam. He entered the university's first postwar class.Eigen desired to study Physics, but since returning soldiers who were previously enrolled received priority, he enrolled in Geophysics. He earned an undergraduate degree and entered graduate study in natural sciences. One of his advisors was Werner Heisenberg, the noted proponent of the uncertainty principle. He received his doctorate in 1951.

Career and research

Eigen received his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen in 1951 under supervision of Arnold Eucken. In 1964 he presented the results of his research at a meeting of the Faraday Society in London. His findings demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to determine that rates of chemical reactions that occurred during time intervals as brief as a nanosecond.Beginning in 1953 Eigen worked at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen, becoming its director in 1964 and joining it with the Max Planck Institute for Spectroscopy to become the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. He was an honorary professor of the Braunschweig University of Technology. From 1982 to 1993, Eigen was president of the German National Merit Foundation. Eigen was a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.{{Citation|pmid=3300804|publication-date=9 May 1987|date=1987|title=List of publications by Manfred Eigen|volume=26|issue=2–3|periodical=Biophys. Chem.|pages=103–8|doi=10.1016/0301-4622(87)80014-5}}{{Citation|pmid=3300803|publication-date=9 May 1987|year=1987|title=Curriculum vitae of Manfred Eigen|volume=26|issue=2–3|periodical=Biophys. Chem.|pages=102|doi=10.1016/0301-4622(87)80013-3}}In 1967, Eigen was awarded, along with Ronald George Wreyford NorrishJOURNAL, Dainton, F., Thrush, B. A., Ronald George Wreyford Norrish. 9 November 1897-7 June 1978, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 27, 1981, 379–424, 0080-4606, 10.1098/rsbm.1981.0016, and George Porter,JOURNAL, Fleming, G. R., Phillips, D., George Porter KT OM, Lord Porter of Luddenham. 6 December 1920 - 31 August 2002: Elected F.R.S. 1960, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 50, 2004, 257–283, 0080-4606, 10.1098/rsbm.2004.0017, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They were cited for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions induced in response to very short pulses of energy.In addition, Eigen's name is linked with the theory of quasispecies, the error threshold, error catastrophe, Eigen's paradox, and the chemical hypercycle, the cyclic linkage of reaction cycles as an explanation for the self-organization of prebiotic systems, which he described with Peter Schuster in 1977.Eigen & Schuster (1977) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part A: Emergence of the Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 64, pp. 541–565.Eigen & Schuster (1978) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part B: The Abstract Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 65, pp. 7–41.Eigen & Schuster (1978) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part C: The Realistic Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 65, pp. 341–369.Manfred Eigen and Peter Schuster The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, 1979, Springer {{ISBN|0-387-09293-5}}Eigen founded two biotechnology companies, Evotec and Direvo.Jackle H, Rotte C, & Gruss P (2017) Manfred Eigen: the realization of his vision of Biophysical Chemistry. European biophysics journal Vol. 47, pp. 319-323.In 1981, Eigen became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.WEB, About Us, World Cultural Council,weblink 8 November 2016, Eigen was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences even though he was an atheist.WEB,weblink HKHPE 03 02,, 9 April 2018, He died on 6 February 2019 at the age of 91.NEWS, 7 February 2019, Manfred Eigen, 1967 Nobel Chemistry Laureate, Dies at 91,weblink The New York Times, 7 February 2019, NEWS, Merlot, Julia, 7 February 2019, Der Bezwinger des Unmessbaren,weblink Der Spiegel, Hamburg, German, 7 February 2019, WEB, 7 February 2019, Göttingen Nobel Laureate Manfred Eigen has died,weblink The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, 7 February 2019, NEWS, Lindinger, Manfred, 7 February 2019, Die Klaviatur des Lebens,weblink Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German, 9 February 2019,

Personal life

Eigen was married to Elfriede Müller. The union produced two children, a boy and a girl. He later married Ruthild Oswatitsch, a longtime scientific partner.NEWS, Martin, Weil, Obituaries: Manfred Eigen,weblink The Boston Globe, 12 February 2019, 12 February 2019,

Honours and awards

Eigen won numerous awards for his research including: {{clear}}




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  • Manfred Eigen, "From Strange Simplicity to Complex Familiarity: A Treatise on Matter, Information, Life and Thought." 2013 Oxford University Press.
  • Eigen (1971) weblink" title="">Selforganization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules. Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 58, Nr. 10, pp. 465–523.
  • Manfred Eigen, Ruthild Winkler: The Laws of the Game: How The Principles of Nature Govern Chance, 1983, Princeton University Press, {{ISBN|0-691-02566-5}}
  • Manfred Eigen, "Molekulare Selbstorganisation und Evolution." (Self organization of matter and the evolution of biological macro molecules.) Naturwissenschaften 58 (10). 1971 pp. 465–523. In English. Influential theoretical paper on origin-of-life biochemistry.
  • Manfred Eigen tells his life story at Web of Stories (video)
  • Interview with Manfred Eigen by Harry Kroto, NL Freeview video provided by the Vega Science Trust.
  • "weblink" title="">Falls ein Gott die Naturgesetze erschuf, so erschuf er auch das Leben durch Evolution" (in German) Interview with Manfred Eigen from 2004, Archive
{{div col end}}

External links

{{Authority control}}{{Nobel Prize in Chemistry Laureates 1951-1975}}{{Founding members of the World Cultural Council}}

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