Person: Abbe, Ernst
Ernst Abbe was a German instument maker who made important improvements in lens design.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- These quotes indicate clearly that Abbe's upbringing was the key to understanding his life so let us examine it in more detail.
- Georg Adam Abbe had been a book printer before his marriage, but then was employed in the Eichel-Streiber spinning mill.
- During the repeated house searches, Ernst had to give the refugees appropriate signs to keep them calm.
- When the day for his departure came, Ernst had to take him to a remote place that night, where a wagon was waiting for him to continue his journey.
- From the age of seven, Abbe attended elementary school in Eisenach.
- From the autumn of 1854, Abbe's outstanding performance led to him receiving a scholarship to cover the school fees.
- Abbe showed extraordinary talent, especially for mathematics and natural sciences, and undertook home study, borrowing books to read on Sundays and holidays.
- In October 1856 Abbe gave the lecture "The Origin of the Solar System" and, seven weeks later, "Light and Movement." Abbe held the role of treasurer of the Association from August to November 1856 and from December 1856 until he left Eisenach on 2 April 1857, he worked as its "Librarian and Archivist," a role which greatly appealed to him.
- In at least two ways Abbe was very lucky in being able to go continue his studies at university.
- It is probable that Gustav Köpp, the headmaster, had approached von Eichel-Streiber on Abbe's behalf, for we certainly know he thought very highly of his outstanding pupil.
- Abbe entered the State University of Jena, his "local university" in the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, after Easter 1857.
- Abbe also attended lectures by the botanist Matthias Jacob Schleiden (1804-1881) and the paleontologist Ernst Erhard Friedrich Wilhelm Schmid (1815-1885).
- At Jena there were two students who had been fellow school pupils at Eisenach with Abbe, namely Carl Martin, whom we mentioned above, and Ludwig Pfeiffer (1842-1921) who shared an apartment with Abbe during his final two semesters at Jena.
- The Mathematical Society at Jena was run by Hermann Schaeffer and Abbe presented the lecture "Inductive proof of the equivalence of heat and work in permanent gases" to the Society on 3 June 1858.
- Unhappy with the teaching at Jena, Abbe left the University of Jena on 15 May 1859 and, on the advice of Karl Snell, continued his studies at the University of Göttingen.
- There he attended courses by Bernhard Riemann, Wilhelm Weber and Moritz Stern, although he described Stern's lectures "quite dry." He was also taught by the astronomer and meteorologist Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Klinkerfues (1827-1884) who had been Gauss's assistant at the Göttingen observatory where, advised by Gauss, he had written his Ph.D. dissertation Über eine neue Methode die Bahnen der Doppelsterne zu berechnen Ⓣ(Using a new method to calculate the orbits of the double stars) (1855).
- The Physical Association in Frankfurt was wanting to appoint an assistant, and Abbe, while still in Göttingen, had travelled there on 24 May 1861 to give a trial lecture on the following day.
- During his first years of teaching, Abbe had only the most primitive, outdated instruments at his and his students' disposal; and his so-called laboratory was, in fact, a mere shed, which served until 1880 when it collapsed during the course of a visit by the zoologist Ernst Haeckel! The material problems of teaching experimental physics at Jena only added to Abbe's burden of a heavy teaching load.
- Without going into the details, one thing should be noted: namely, that the report on this apparatus made in 1870 was Abbe's first publication in Jena; and at the same time that the device is the first real new construction produced by the Zeiss workshops on the basis of Abbe's ideas.
- Abbe had been approached by Carl Zeiss in 1866 with various optical problems.
- In addition to his university posts, Abbe was made research director of the Zeiss optical works in 1866.
- Other optical advances which Abbe made include a clearer theoretical understanding of limits to magnification and the discovery the Abbe sine condition, as it is called today, which gives conditions on a lens for it to form a sharp image, without the defects of coma and spherical aberration.
- Abbe described the optical process so well that this paper has become the foundation upon which much of our understanding of optical science rests today.
- As a reward for his efforts Carl Zeiss made Abbe a partner in his burgeoning business in 1876.
- Becoming wealthy through his optical work and a partnership with Zeiss, Abbe set up and endowed the Carl Zeiss Foundation for research in science and social improvement in 1891.
- This authority was bound by a set of statutes drawn up by Abbe himself, after studying sociology and law for two years.
- Abbe introduced industrial relations changes into the Zeiss optical works in 1896 which today sound commonplace but were many years ahead of their time.
- Abbe, the founder of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, was a social reformer and philanthropist.
- To be a human being was considered by Ernst Abbe as a rightful demand of the industrial worker; ...
- Abbe studied the effects of mechanisation of labour which separated the workers from their tools and the development of corporations which separated ownership and control.
- Foreseeing the bad effects of mechanisation of industry, Abbe suggested to other employers and to the State that a substantial part of industrial profit should be used to improve the economic and social conditions of the workers; greater security should be given by a pension and profit sharing plan, and by severance pay; workers' committees should establish greater social recognition and participation in management responsibility.
- Abbe stopped teaching at the University of Jena in 1891.
- The monument was designed by Henry Van de Velde and adorned with reliefs of Constantin Mennier; it also contained the marble bust of Abbe which is the work of Max Klinger.
- An Ernst Abbe Memorial Medal is to be added to the award, which shows the portrait of Abbe, the founder of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, on the one hand, and the merit of the recipient on the other.
Born 23 January 1840, Eisenach, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (now in Germany). Died 14 January 1905, Jena, Germany.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Germany
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive