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Gustav Tammann

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Gustav Tammann (1861-1939)

1939 Obituary [1]

Geh. Reg.-Rat. Professor Dr. G. Tammann died on December 17, 1938, after a short illness.

He was born in 1861 in Dorpat, Estonia, studied physics and chemistry at the University of his native town, and became Professor of Chemistry there as early as 1894. In 1903 he accepted the position of Director of the newly founded Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at Gottingen.

He relinquished his post in 1907 in order to occupy the chair of Physical Chemistry, where he remained until his retirement in 1929.

Tammann's field of work and interest covers the entire range of physical chemistry based, as it was 20-50 years ago, on problems of inorganic chemistry. In this field there were few questions which he did not investigate, and to this wide range of interests was due the superior skill with which Tammann dealt with more specialized problems. He was the originator of the physico-chemical theory of the crystalline state and its fundamental relation with the liquid and gaseous states; in this connection he recognized the importance of nucleus formation and crystallization velocity. In addition, he formulated a theory of salt solutions, according to which the solution behaves as the solvent would under high pressure. At the outset of his work in Gottingen Tammann developed a new problem of inorganic chemistry when he began to study the mutual relations between metals. This was his first investigation relating to metallurgy, a science which he never afterwards gave up.

The most important of his results in this field were: (1) A general survey of the mutual behaviour of metals in their alloys which, though some details were afterwards found to be unreliable, has formed the basis for a large number of later investigations. (2) A method for the systematic teaching of metallography with special reference to the theory of plastic deformation (based on the results of Ewing and Rosenhain) and of recrystallization. In this connection Tammann's text-book of metallography, first published in 1914, must be mentioned. (3) A theory of the effects of chemical agents on solid solutions (the law of resistance limits) which led to the detection of solid solutions with regular superstructures. (4) A theory of the velocity of tarnishing of metals, based on an ingenious application of Newton's theory of the colours of thin layers. (5) A study of the state of glasses, mainly carried out in later years. Gustav Tammann was a master of experiment with simple technique and fully understood how to hand on his ability to his students.

To him it was the fundamental truth of a discovery that was important; he was always less interested in detailed and systematic determinations of high precision. He had a forceful personality and exerted a great influence over his students. Many of these are working as metallurgists both in Germany and in other countries. Among his non-German pupils, Gwyer in England, Matthewson in America, and some scientists working in Russia deserve mention. In Germany metallographic research is still mainly in the hands of his school.

Professor Tammann was elected a member of the Institute of Metals on May 19, 1926, and an Honorary Member on September 10,1929. -G. MASING.

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