Readspeaker menu

History of the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Historisches 470x298

The alma mater jenensis was founded in 1558 by Johann Friedrich I. Around 100 years later, the early modern university with its four faculties - philosophy, theology, law and medicine - had developed into a research community with very wide-ranging fields of interest. In 2008, we were able to commemorate our the 450th anniversary of our university's foundation with various celebratory events.  

The mathematician and astronomer Weigel, who was also the teacher of Leibniz, is considered to be one of the founders of scientific thinking. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Jena became famous through the classic-romantic "wonder years", because of the way that intellectual giants had gathered together in one location. Goethe, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Voß and the Schlegel brothers shaped the intellectual life and taught in the Saale river city; Novalis, Hölderlin, Brentano, Fröbel and Arndt sat as students in their lectures.

In 1870, the appointed physicist and associate professor Ernst Abbe initiated the emergence into the industry era with his theory on image formation in microscopes. Through his close collaboration with the university mechanic Carl Zeiß, who brought the optical apparatus engineering to increasing levels of perfection in his private workshops, and the chemist Otto Schott, who founded, upon Abbe's request in 1884, a 'Glass Technology Laboratory'  for the production of ultra pure special glass for the optical instruments of Zeiß, the foundation stone for economic prosperity was laid. To this day, this productive close cooperation between scientific research in universities and industrial production at a high technological level stands as the trademark of the scientific research location of Jena.

Important contributions to scientific research were made by the biologist Ernst Haeckel, the most important evolution theorist after Darwin, the mathematician and logician Gottlob Frege, the neurologist Hans Berger, the inventor of the electroencephalogram (EEG), and the physicist Max Wien, one of the pioneers of cordless telegraphy. In the field of physics, prominent individuals of the past century such as Felix Auerbach, Eberhard Buchwald, Wilhelm Hanle, Friedrich Hund, Georg Joos, Ernst Schmutzer, Max Schubert, Heinrich Siedentopf and Max Steenbeck have made substantial contributions to the scientific reputation of the university.

Within a few years after the political transformation of East Germany, Jena developed into a science research center of international standing again. The Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, founded in 1990, has made an essential contribution to this ranking because of its national and international profile, which has furthermore created a field of tension between tradition and a new orientation of future-oriented research fields.