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Max Abraham

Max Abraham
Born March 26, 1875
Died November 16, 1922
Nationality German
Fields physicist

Max Abraham (March 26, 1875 – November 16, 1922) was a German physicist. Abraham was born in Danzig, Germany (now Gdańsk in Poland) to a family of Jewish merchants. Attending the University of Berlin, he studied under Max Planck. He graduated in 1897. For the next three years, Abraham worked as Planck's assistant.

From 1900 to 1909, Abraham worked at Göttingen as a privatdozent, an unpaid lecturing position.

Abraham developed his theory of the electron in 1902, in which he hypothesized that the electron was a perfect sphere with a charge divided evenly around its surface. Hendrik Lorentz (1899, 1904) and Albert Einstein (1905) developed a different theory which became more widely accepted; nevertheless, Abraham never gave up believing that his views were correct, since in his eyes they were based on "common sense".

In 1909 Abraham travelled to the United States to accept a position at the University of Illinois, but ended up returning to Göttingen after a few months. He was later invited to Italy by Tullio Levi-Civita, and found work as the professor of rational mechanics at the Politecnico di Milano university until 1914.

When World War I started, Abraham was forced to return to Germany. During this time he worked on the theory of radio transmission. After the war, he still was not allowed back into Milan, so until 1921 he worked at Stuttgart as the professor of physics at Technische Hochschule.

After his work at Stuttgart, Abraham accepted the position of chair in Aachen; however, before he started his work there he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died on November 16, 1922 in Munich, Germany.

After his death, Max Born and Max von Laue wrote about him in an obituary: He loved his absolute aether, his field equations, his rigid electron just as a youth loves his first flame, whose memory no later experience can extinguish.[1]


  • Abraham, M. & Föppl. A. (1904). Theorie der Elektrizität: EinfĂĽhrung in die Maxwellsche Theorie der Elektrizität. Leipzig: Teubner.  

Further reading


  1. ^ Pais, Abraham (2005). Subtle is the Lord. Oxford University Press. p. 232. ISBN 0192806726.  

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