Peter Debye

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University of Zürich (1911-12)
University of Utrecht (1912-14)

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Peter Joseph William Debye (March 24, 1884 – November 2, 1966) was a Dutch physicist and physical chemist, and Nobel laureate in Chemistry.



Early life

Born Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus Debije[1] in Maastricht, Netherlands, Debye attended the Aachen University of Technology, Rhenish Prussia just 30 km away in 1901. He studied mathematics and classical physics, and, in 1905, received a degree in electrical engineering. In 1907, he published his first paper, a mathematically elegant solution of a problem involving eddy currents. At Aachen, he studied under the theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld, who later claimed that his most important discovery was Peter Debye.

In 1906, Sommerfeld received an appointment at Munich, Bavaria, and took Debye with him as his assistant. Debye got his Ph.D. with a dissertation on radiation pressure in 1908. In 1910, he derived the Planck radiation formula using a method which Max Planck agreed was simpler than his own.

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