Manfred Eigen

Manfred Eigen
Manfred Eigen, Göttingen 1996
Born 9 May 1927 (1927-05-09) (age 91)[1][2]
Bochum, Germany
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Göttingen
Known for
Scientific career
Fields Biophysical chemistry
Thesis Ermittlung der molekularen Struktur reiner Flüssigkeiten und Lösungen aus thermischen und kalorischen Eigenschaften (1951)
Doctoral advisor Arnold Eucken[5]
Doctoral students Geoffrey Hoffman

Manfred Eigen (born 9 May 1927) is a German biophysical chemist who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in Chemistry[3] for work on measuring fast chemical reactions.[6]

Education and early life

Eigen was drafted into the German Army at fifteen, serving in an anti-aircraft unit until being captured by the Russians at the end of the Second World War. After escaping from captivity, he walked to Göttingen and joined the first post-war cohort of students, despite never finishing his high school qualifications.[7]

Career and research

Eigen received his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen in 1951 under supervision of Arnold Eucken[5]. From 1953 on he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen, becoming its director in 1964 and joining it with the Max Planck Institut for Spectroscopy to become the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. He is an honorary professor of the Braunschweig University of Technology. From 1982 to 1993, Eigen was president of the German National Merit Foundation. Eigen is currently a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[8][9]

In 1967, Eigen was awarded, along with Ronald George Wreyford Norrish[10] and George Porter,[11] the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They were distinguished for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions induced in response to very short pulses of energy.

In addition, Eigen's name is linked with the theory of quasispecies, the error threshold, error catastrophe, Eigen's paradox, and the chemical hypercycle, the cyclic linkage of reaction cycles as an explanation for the self-organization of prebiotic systems, which he described with Peter Schuster in 1977.[12][13][14][15] He founded two biotechnology companies, Evotec and Direvo.

In 1981, Eigen became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.[16]

Eigen is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences even though he is an atheist.[17]

Honours and awards

Eigen has won numerous awards for his research including:


  1. "Manfred Eigen Festschrift: special issue dedicated to Professor Manfred Eigen on the occasion of his 60th birthday", Biophys. Chem. (published May 9, 1987), 26 (2–3), pp. 101–390, 1987, PMID 3300802
  2. Schlögl, R W (1997), "To Manfred Eigen on his 70th birthday", Biophys. Chem. (published Jun 30, 1997), 66 (2–3), pp. 71–3, doi:10.1016/S0301-4622(97)00075-6, PMID 17029872
  3. 1 2 Weisskopf, V F; Eyring, H; Eyring, E M (1967), "Nobel Prizes: 4 named for international award (Hans Bethe, Manfred Eigen, R.G. Norrish, George Porter)", Science (published Nov 10, 1967), 158 (3802), pp. 745–8, Bibcode:1967Sci...158..745W, doi:10.1126/science.158.3802.745, PMID 4860395
  4. 1 2 "Professor Manfred Eigen ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17.
  5. 1 2 Manfred Eigen at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. Winkler-Oswatitsch, R (1987), "Manfred Eigen. Scientist and musician.", Biophys. Chem. (published May 9, 1987), 26 (2–3), pp. 109–15, doi:10.1016/0301-4622(87)80015-7, PMID 3300805
  7. Czikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2013). Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention. Harper Perennial. p. 54.
  8. "List of publications by Manfred Eigen", Biophys. Chem. (published May 9, 1987), 26 (2–3), pp. 103–8, 1987, doi:10.1016/0301-4622(87)80014-5, PMID 3300804
  9. "Curriculum vitae of Manfred Eigen", Biophys. Chem. (published May 9, 1987), 26 (2–3), p. 102, 1987, doi:10.1016/0301-4622(87)80013-3, PMID 3300803
  10. Dainton, F.; Thrush, B. A. (1981). "Ronald George Wreyford Norrish. 9 November 1897-7 June 1978". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 27 (0): 379–424. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1981.0016. ISSN 0080-4606.
  11. Fleming, G. R.; Phillips, D. (2004). "George Porter KT OM, Lord Porter of Luddenham. 6 December 1920 - 31 August 2002: Elected F.R.S. 1960". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 50 (0): 257–283. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2004.0017. ISSN 0080-4606.
  12. Eigen & Schuster (1977) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part A: Emergence of the Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 64, pp. 541–565.
  13. Eigen & Schuster (1978) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part B: The Abstract Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 65, pp. 7–41.
  14. Eigen & Schuster (1978) The Hypercycle. A Principle of Natural Self-Organisation. Part C: The Realistic Hypercycle. Naturwissenschaften Vol. 65, pp. 341–369.
  15. Manfred Eigen and Peter Schuster The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, 1979, Springer ISBN 0-387-09293-5
  16. "About Us". World Cultural Council. Retrieved November 8, 2016.
  17. "HKHPE 03 02". Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  18. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1967 –". Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  19. Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.


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