|Birth Day:||May 9, 1927|
|Birth Place:||Bochum, Germany, Germany|
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Eigen was born on 9 May 1927 in Bochum, the son of Hedwig (Feld) and Ernst Eigen, a chamber musician. As a child he developed a deep passion for music, and studied piano.
World War II interrupted his formal education. At age fifteen he was drafted into service in a German antiaircraft unit. He was captured by the Soviets toward the end of the war. He managed to escape (he said later that escape was relatively easy), and walked hundreds of miles across defeated Germany, arriving in Göttingen in 1945. He lacked the necessary documentation for acceptance to university, but was admitted after he demonstrated his knowledge in an exam. He entered the university's first postwar class.
Eigen desired to study Physics, but since returning soldiers who were previously enrolled received priority, he enrolled in Geophysics. He earned an undergraduate degree and entered graduate study in natural sciences. One of his advisors was Werner Heisenberg, the noted proponent of the uncertainty principle. He received his doctorate in 1951.
Eigen received his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen in 1951 under supervision of Arnold Eucken. In 1964 he presented the results of his research at a meeting of the Faraday Society in London. His findings demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to determine the rates of chemical reactions that occurred during time intervals as brief as a nanosecond.
Beginning in 1953 Eigen worked at the Max Planck Institute for Physical Chemistry in Göttingen, becoming its director in 1964 and joining it with the Max Planck Institute for Spectroscopy to become the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. He was an honorary professor of the Braunschweig University of Technology. From 1982 to 1993, Eigen was president of the German National Merit Foundation. Eigen was a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
In 1967, Eigen was awarded, along with Ronald George Wreyford Norrish and George Porter, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. They were cited 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.
In 1981, Eigen became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.
Eigen was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences even though he was an atheist. He died on 6 February 2019 at the age of 91.
Currently, Manfred Eigen is 96 years, 0 months and 30 days old. Manfred Eigen will celebrate 97th birthday on a Thursday 9th of May 2024.
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