Mach, Ernst

PHYSICIST, PHILOSOPHER (AUSTRIAN EMPIRE)
BORN 18 Feb 1838, Chirlitz-Turas, Moravia - DIED 19 Feb 1916, Haar (near München)
GRAVE LOCATION München, Bayern: Nordfriedhof, Ungererstrasse 130 (monument between the Northern and Southern Arcades (grave cleared))

Ernst Mach was born in Chrlice, now part of Brno. From 1855 onwards he studied mathematics, physics and philosophy at the University of Vienna. He became a doctor in physics in 1860 (his dissertation was titled "Über elektrische Ladungen und Induktion").

Immediately after his studies he delivered empirical evidence of the Doppler effect, thus ending the discussions about the correctness of this theory. He worked as a private teachter until he became Professor of Mathematics in Graz in 1864. There he also became Professor of Physics in 1866. In 1867 he became Professor of Experimental Physics in Prague, where he worked for 28 years.

In 1877 he published a paper in which he described the sound effects during a supersonic motion of a projectile. The ratio between the speed of the projectile and the speed of sound is known as the Mach number.

Mach also known for his philosophy of science that was very influential during his time as well as after his death. He stated that scientifical laws were used to summarize empirical events to make them understandable for the human mind. He published an essay titled "The Economical Nature of Physical Inquiry". He oppposed Ludwig Boltzmann, who preferred an atomic theory of physics. Mach influenced the Viennese philosophers as well as the logical positivists.

After suffering a stroke in 1897 he retired in 1901 and he became a member of the upper chamber of the parliament in Austria. In 1913 he went to live with his son in Vatterstetten near Munich.

Related persons
• was admired by Stöhr, Adolf

Sources
The Times
• Zeman, Z.A.B., Schaduwen over de Habsburgers, De ineenstorting van de dubbelmonarchie, Sijthoff, Leiden, 1971
• Scheibmayr, Erich, Wer? Wann? Wo?, Persönlichkeiten in Münchner Friedhöfen, Verlag Erich Scheibmayr, München, 1989
Ernst Mach - Wikipedia

Images

The monument for Ernst Mach at the Nordfriedhof, Munich. His grave was cleared.
Picture by Androom (26 Aug 2003)

 

The bust of Ernst Mach at the Rathauspark, Vienna.
Picture by Androom (21 Sep 2004)

 


Mácha, Karel Hynek

Published: 10 Jun 2007
Last update: 24 Jun 2007