Reprinted from the September 1999 edition of the Mössbauer Spectroscopy Newsletter, published as part of Volume 22, Issue 7 of the Mössbauer Effect Reference and Data Journal
Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer was born on January 31, 1929, in Munich. He received his early education at the Oberschule (non-classical secondary school) in Munich-Pasing and completed his schooling in 1948. Before continuing his academic studies, he spent one year in an industrial laboratory before beginning his physics studies at the Technische Hochschule München.
In 1952 he passed his intermediate degree examination and then began his investigations of resonant absorption of gamma-rays, receiving his Diploma in Physics from the Laboratory for Applied Physics at the Technische Hochschule München. It was also during this time he was an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Mathematics. In 1955 he began his work on his thesis for his Doctorate, carrying out a series of investigations at the Institute for Physics at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. His research resulted in two very important publications that appeared in Z. Phys. (Kernresonanzfluoreszenz von Gammastrahlung in Ir191, 151, 124-43, 1958) and in Naturwissenschaften (Kernresonanzabsorption von Gammastrahlung in Ir191, 45, 538-9, 1958).
With the completion of his Doctorate, he was employed as a scientific assistant at Technische Universität München. In 1960 he received an invitation to continue his investigations of gamma-ray absorption as a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. In 1961 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, jointly with Prof. Hofstadter, at which time he was also appointed Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
He continued his gamma-resonance investigations at California Institute of Technology up through 1964, at which time he accepted a position of Professor of Physics at the Technische Universität München where he remained through 1971. It was during this period of time that he carried out a number of investigations with various isotopes observing recoilless nuclear resonance absorption. In 1972 he became Director of the Institute Max von Laue-Paul Langevin and the Director of German-French-British High-Flux Reactor in Grenoble, France. He remained in this position until 1977, when he returned to the Technische Universität München as a Professor of Physics. On March 31, 1997, he became Professor Emeritus.
Beginning in 1977 a very important exchange began with key researchers in the Soviet Union and a team of researchers at München collaborating on a series of seminars and investigations. While in München, Professor Mössbauer's major scientific interest changed towards the solar neutrino problem, including the solar neutrino mass and measurement of the solar neutrino flux.
Throughout his career he has received numerous academic honors, including the Elliot Cresson Medal (Franklin Institute, Philadelphia), Röntgenprize (Universität Giessen, Germany), Honorary Doctor of Science from numerous institutions, including the University of Oxford (Great Britain), Université de Lille (France), Gustaphus Adolphus College (Minnesota, USA), Université de Grenoble (France), University of Leicester (United Kingdom), Universidad de Madrid (Spain), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Universität Saarbrücken (Germany), Eötvös Lorand University (Budapest, Hungary), University of Montreal (Canada), and the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Other awards and honors include the Research Corporation Award (New York), the Guthrie Medal and Prize (Institute of Physics, London), the Lomonosov Medal (Academy of Sciences, USSR), the Einstein Medal (Albert Einstein-Gesellschaft Bern, Switzerland) and Order pour le merite for sciences and arts (Federal Ministry of Interior, Bonn, Germany).
Rudolf Mössbauer is a dedicated piano player and lover of classical music. He also enjoys hiking, especially mountain hiking, and is an avid photographer.
The Editors thank Prof. Fritz Parak and Ms. Beatrice van Bellen, Technische Universität München, Germany, for all their assistance in providing us with valuable information and photographs.
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