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Gerhard Herzberg Quotes & Biography



On the basis of his pioneering work in molecular optical spectroscopy using light absorption by molecules and atoms to reveal their geometric patterns and electronic structures, Gerhard Herzberg earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988. His famous quotes are given below. You can get motivation and inspiration by reading these amazing Gerhard Herzberg quotes. Keep reading if you to more know about Gerhard Herzberg’s life!!

Gerhard Herzberg quotes
  • It is very difficult to find appropriate words to say ‘thank you’ for an honour like the Nobel Prize. It is the supreme honour that a scientist can receive. Some of the giants in physics and chemistry have received this prize. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • The citation for the 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry reads, ‘for contribution to the knowledge of electronic structures and geometry of molecules, especially free radicals,’ and therefore implies that the Prize has been awarded for a long series of studies extending practically over my whole scientific life. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • Every newspaper feels it must have an astrology column, and even in the Carleton University bookstore this morning, I found books on astrology for sale. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • Pursue science because it is knowledge, because it broadens our horizons. There is so much more to be discovered. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • The CH radical is a very reactive radical which, under most conditions, has a very short lifetime. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • I was brought up as a physicist. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • There is nothing wrong with good accounting, except that it does not necessarily lead to good science. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • Every newspaper feels it must have an astrology column, and even in the Carleton University bookstore this morning, I found books on astrology for sale. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • Dealing with the health of people is more important than political considerations. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • Interest in the pseudo-sciences has become extraordinary. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • The Glassco Commission was really not interested in good science. It was interested in good accounting. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • If you start from nothing, it is very difficult to get anywhere. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • Many science people feel groups like WHO are there to do a job and not to be dealt with in a political way. — Gerhard Herzberg
Gerhard Herzberg Quotes
  • For polyatomic free radicals and ions, one is dependent both for the ground states and the excited states on the study of electronic spectra to obtain the shapes and the geometrical parameters. — Gerhard Herzberg
  • The visible and near-ultraviolet emission spectrum of the CH radical has been known ever since spectra of an ordinary Bunsen burner have been taken. — Gerhard Herzberg

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Gerhard Herzberg Biography

The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, and he departed the country as a result of his Jewish wife’s persecution. In his early experiments, his wife was a spectroscopist, and she helped him out. In several cases, he developed his own spectroscopic methods to describe the structures of molecules, free radicals, and celestial objects that could not be obtained through any other means. 

When it came to understanding the energy levels and interior geometry of molecules, his contributions to physical chemistry and quantum mechanics were invaluable. He was the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize in physics or chemistry. Even though he was supposed to retire at the age of 65, he refused and was given the title of Professor Emeritus as a result. He worked on his research full-time until he died, and he did so for the remainder of his healthy life. Childhood and Adolescence

When he was in high school in Frankfurt, he attended the ‘Liebig Oberrealschule’ from 1915 to 1916. It was at Hamburg, Germany in 1924 that his ‘Abitur’ was gained from the ‘Johanneum Realgymnasium’ high school, which was essential for university admission. With an industrial scholarship, he studied at the ‘Technische Hoschule’ till 1928. With the support of a federal scholarship, he earned his ‘Diplom Ingenieur’ in 1927 and his Dr.-Ing from the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology’ in 1928. He is also known as an amazing thinker. Gerhard Herzberg quotes are popular in today’s generation to get motivation.


In 1930, Gerhard Herzberg returned to Germany and became a ‘Privatdozent,’ or lecturer, at the ‘Darmstadt University of Technology,’ where he worked for free until 1935. The ‘Emergency Association of German Science’ provided financial assistance in the form of lecture fees and membership dues. As the Nazi administration in Germany excluded those with Jewish wives from their universities, he fled to Canada in 1935. As a Research Professor of Physics at the ‘University of Saskatchewan, Canada’, he lectured there until 1945.

His discovery of the presence of ‘themethylidyne ions (CH+)’ in interstellar clouds or gas between two stars was made in 1941. In 1945, he became a professor of Spectroscopy at the ‘Yerkes Observatory,’ part of the ‘University of Chicago,’ and he kept that position until 1948. In 1948, he demonstrated that hydrogen molecules exist in the atmospheres of other planets.

When he was first elected as Vice President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAC) from 1957 to 1963, he was also elected as the first Canadian to hold that position. From 1966 to 1967, he was the Royal Society of Canada’s President. As Distinguished Research Scientist Emeritus in 1969, he remained in this position until 1974, when he stepped down. His term of office was from 1973 to 1980, when he served as the university’s chancellor. When he was named Director of the ‘Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ in 1974, he stayed there until 1995, when he retired.

Major works

  • In 1937, he released his book, ‘Atomic Spectra and Atomic Structure.’
  • He published his first book in 1939, titled Spectra of Diatomic Molecules; the second, titled Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules, was released in 1945.
  • 1966 saw the publication of his second book, “Electronic Spectrums of Polyatomic Molecules.”

Awards and Accolades

For his contributions to Canadian and British society, Gerhard Herzberg was inducted into both the “Royal Society of Canada” and the “Royal Society of London.” ‘The Royal Society of Chemists’ awarded him the Henry Marshall Tory Medal in 1953. The ‘Indian Academy of Sciences’ made him a ‘Foreign Fellow’ in 1955. In 1964, he was awarded the ‘Frederic Ives Medal.’ In 1968, he received the prestigious ‘Companion of the Order of Canada’ honour. NRCC named him a “Distinguished Research Scientist” and bestowed the “Willard Gibbs medal” upon him in recognition of his contributions to the field of nuclear physics.

From the “Chemical Society of London,” he was awarded the “Faraday Medal” in 1970. 1971 saw him win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Also, in 1971, he was awarded the “Royal Medal” by the “Royal Society of London” for his contributions to British culture. His status as “Foreign Member” of the “Indian National Science Academy” was granted in 1974. This is an honorary title that’s equivalent to being on the British Privy Council. 

In 1992 he was given the title of “Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.” As a result of this, he was now referred to as Honorable Gerhard Herzberg. Herzberg was inducted as a “Foreign Member” of the “American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” the “Optical Society of America,” and the “Pontifical Academy of Sciences,” as well as a “Foreign Associate” of the “National Academy of Sciences.

There is a ‘International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science’ that has accepted him as one of its members. Ottawa’s “Hertzberg Institute of Astrophysics” is named in his honour. To celebrate the memory of Gerhard Herzberg, a gold medal for science and engineering excellence was established in 2000 in his honour by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Also in honour of Herzberg, the asteroid ‘3316 Herzberg’ was named in his honour.

Personal life and legacy

On December 30, 1929, he tied the knot with Jewish spectroscopist Luise Oettinger. Paul Albin and Agnes Margaret were the children he had with this marriage. After the death of his first wife in 1971, he married Monika Elisabeth Tenthoff on March 21, 1972, just months before he got the Nobel Prize. As a result of this union, he and his wife produced a daughter who was named Luise. On March 3, 1999, Gerhard Herzberg passed away in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, after a long battle with sickness.

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