High Honours for Scientific Lifetime Achievement
4 March 2015
Heidelberg physicist Franz Wegner received Lars Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society
Photo: Ken Cole
The American Physical Society (APS) has honoured physicist Prof. Dr. Franz Wegner of Heidelberg University with the Lars Onsager Prize for his lifetime achievement in science. The professor emeritus at the Institute for Theoretical Physics is the first German scientist to receive the award, which is endowed with 10,000 dollars. It is given in recognition of outstanding research in theoretical statistical mechanics and the theory of quantum fluids. The award was presented in San Antonio, Texas on 2 March 2015 at the APS March Meeting.
Prof. Wegner received the Onsager Prize for “his far-sighted contributions furthering our understanding of the very meaning of order and disorder, particularly the formulation of the Ising lattice gauge theory and his work on the localisation transition and the renormalisation group.” Wegner’s scientific work is in statistical mechanics and the theory of complex physical systems. “While the general perception often associates physics with reductionism and the isolation of phenomena in order to pinpoint their exact cause, this field, founded by Maxwell and Boltzmann, explores what happens when many parts are assembled,” explains Prof. Dr. Manfred Salmhofer of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Heidelberg University. This is of major significance for nearly all macroscopic processes, from thermodynamics and the behaviour of solids to chemistry and biology. “The collective behaviour of systems made of very many parts often exhibits qualitatively novel phenomena which cannot occur in the individual components. With his work, Franz Wegner made a lasting contribution to the understanding of complex systems and thus significantly boosted Heidelberg’s international reputation in the field of physics,” states Prof. Salmhofer.
Franz Wegner was born in 1940 and received his doctoral degree at the Technical University of Munich in 1968. After research stays in Jülich and at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (USA), he was appointed professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of Heidelberg University in 1974. He has been an emeritus since 2006. Prof. Wegner is a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and has received numerous awards for his scientific accomplishments, including the Walter Schottky Prize in 1976 and the Max Planck Medal of the German Physical Society in 1986.