Ernst Mach (Feb. 18, 1838- Feb. 19, 1916)

  • Early Life

    Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach was born on February 18, 1838 in a small town outside of Brno, Czech Republic. Mach's father, Johann Mach, worked as a tutor and his mother, Josephine Lanhaus, stayed at home. Soon after Mach was born his family moved to a small farm outside of Vienna to a town called Untersiebenbrunn, Austria. This is where he was home schooled until the age of fifteen.
  • Early Career

    In 1855, Mach enrolled in the University of Vienna studying mathematics and physics. He graduated from the University of Vienna in 1861. After graduating Mach chose to stay in Vienna doing lectures at the college. During this time Mach took additional classes in physiology, chemistry, and anatomy. Following these classes, Mach wrote one of his first successful textbooks, "Compendium der Physik für Mediciner". In 1864 Mach got a chair at Graz teaching physics.
  • Contributions to Science

    Machs first major contribution to science was in the early 1860's with the Doppler theory. He implemented a simple plan with an instrument to help prove that the Doppler theory was true. Following this discovery he worked on his most major book, the "Analysis of Sensation". This book laid the foundation for the Gestalt Theory, which is, "...the whole of anything is greater than its parts". The "Analysis of Sensation" is about the relationship between physics and the physical sciences.
  • Contributions to Science Cont'd

    A long while after writing "Analysis of Sensations" Mach began studying ammunition. Europe banned certain types of ammunition that were causing "crater-like wounds". After studying these Mach began to work out the details of supersonic motion and high-speed photographic techniques. He also studied the propagation of sound waves and proved the existence of shock waves. Thus giving us the "Mach Number", which is the ratio of speed an object is carrying to the speed of sound.
  • Ernst Mach's Late Years

    In 1897 Mach suffered from a stroke that paralyzed his right side. The aftermath of the stroke caused him to retire from the university of Vienna in 1901. Following this, him and his wife moved to their sons home outside of Munich where he continued to write up until his death in 1916.
    Mach's major works and contributions:
    *The Science of Mechanics: A Critical and Historical Account of Its Development (1893)
    *The Analysis of Sensations (1897)
    *Popular Scientific Lectures (1895)