Person: Kahn, Franz
Franz Kahn was a mathematician and astrophysicist who was a professor at the University of Manchester. He was a world leading expert in theoretical studies of the dynamics of the interstellar medium.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Siegfried Kahn joined Stephen Bing in setting up a toy company in 1928 in Nuremberg and he became the general manager and designer of a new range of toys.
- Siegfried Kahn was Jewish and after Hitler had come to power in 1933 his position, and that of the other Jewish members of the company in Nuremberg, looked increasingly uncertain given the anti-Semitic legislation.
- Franz Kahn began his schooling in a Jewish school in Nuremberg in 1934, moving to attend another Jewish school in the neighbouring town of Fürth.
- Franz began his studies at a preparatory school in Hampstead but, because of the war, was evacuated to Rickmansworth.
- The 1939 Register also gives Franz D Kahn at school at 75 High Street, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.
- On 21 December 1939 Siegfried Kahn was considered.
- After a short time at Rickmansworth, Kahn enrolled in the famous independent school of St Paul's which had been founded in 1509.
- Kahn became a boarder at the school in 1940 and, while at St Paul's, he won the form prize for English, a remarkable achievement for a boy who was a native German speaker and had only been in England for two years at the time.
- In 1947 Kahn graduated with First Class Honours in mathematics from the University of Oxford and remained at Queen's College undertaking research for his D.Phil.
- Kahn was also influenced while undertaking research by Harry Hemley Plaskett (1893-1980).
- Kahn moved to Balliol College in 1948 when he became a Skynner senior student.
- Kahn submitted his first paper, An Investigation into the Possibility of observing Streams of Corpuscles emitted by Solar Flares to the Royal Astronomical Society on 10 December 1948.
- Kahn was awarded a D.Phil.
- In 1949 Kahn was appointed as an Assistant lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Manchester.
- Manchester was certainly an excellent place for Kahn to get a job.
- Recent Hubble photographs of regions of massive star formation, like the now famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, rely on the basic Kahn theory for their interpretation.
- Oort gave a seminar after which Kahn made some critical comments (this was probably in relation to Oort's championship of the so-called 'rocket-effect' acceleration of interstellar clouds, an effect that Kahn had shown not to work in the manner advocated by Oort).
- Presumably in view of Oort's great standing, heads shook disapprovingly during Kahn's remarks, and the listener next to him explained, 'your criticism is like challenging the Almighty'.
- On leaving the seminar room, a small group, which included Kahn, went from the building and encountered a sudden weather change.
- Kahn submitted his essay entitled The Formation of Stars through the Condensation of Diffuse Matter and was awarded the prestigious prize in 1958.
- Promotion saw Kahn made a Senior Lecturer in 1958, a Reader in 1962, and Professor of Astronomy in 1966.
- As a result of this discovery, Carla and Franz Kahn published the article Letters from Einstein to de Sitter on the Nature of the Universe in Nature in 1975.
- Later that year Zdenek Kopal retired and Kahn edited the book Investigating the Universe consisting of papers presented to Kopal on the occasion of his retirement in September 1981.
- Kahn became Head of the Department of Astronomy at Manchester in 1981 following Kopal's retirement.
- His versatility is shown by papers on the spiral structure of the Galaxy, on the nature of the Local Group and the account (with the late Carla Kahn) of the Einstein-de Sitter correspondence.
- Kahn's style is especially noteworthy for his skill in building simple mathematical models which bring out the essence of the physics.
- Kahn served on the council of the Royal Astronomical Society (1967-70) and served an editor of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (1993-98).
- He has been honoured by the International Astronomical Union by them naming the asteroid Kahnia for him.
- In 1999 the conference 'Astrophysical Dynamics' was held in Évora, Portugal, in Kahn's honour.
- After reminiscing for some time, we decided that we should celebrate Franz's work in some special way.
- The conference, Astrophysical Dynamics, was the result, the major emphasis being on theoretical developments in astrophysical dynamics set out principally by Franz's research career.
Born 13 May 1926, Nuremberg, Bayern, Germany. Died 8 February 1998, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
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