Victor Francis Hess

About Victor Francis Hess

Who is it?: Discoverer of Cosmic Rays
Birth Day: June 24, 1883
Birth Place: Peggau, United States
Alma mater: University of Graz
Known for: Discovery of cosmic rays
Spouse(s): Marie Bertha Warner Breisky (m. 1920–1955) Elizabeth M. Hoenke (m. 1955–1964) (1905-1973)
Awards: Nobel Prize in Physics (1936)
Fields: Physics
Institutions: University of Graz Austrian Academy of Sciences University of Innsbruck Fordham University

Victor Francis Hess

Victor Francis Hess was born on June 24, 1883 in Peggau, United States, is Discoverer of Cosmic Rays. Victor Francis Hess was an Austrian-American physicist who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of cosmic radiation. Born in late nineteenth century Austria, he graduated from the University of Graz and started his career at Institute of Radium Research of the Viennese Academy of Sciences. While working there in 1913, he discovered that atmospheric ionization was caused, not by the earth as was believed at that time, but by a highly penetrating ray that originated in the outer space. Unfortunately, at that time, there were few takers of the theory outside the University of Vienna and it was not until 1925 that his theory was corroborated and the ray was named as ‘cosmic ray’. He received Nobel Prize in Physics for this invention even later. Nonetheless, he kept on teaching at different Austrian universities and once Austria was occupied by Germany, Hess fled to USA. There too he kept on his research work and contributed significantly in the field of radioactivity. He was strongly opposed to nuclear test because he believed that very little was known about radioactivity to say for sure such tests, even if carried underground, would have no impact on the surface.
Victor Francis Hess is a member of Scientists

Does Victor Francis Hess Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Victor Francis Hess has been died on 17 December 1964(1964-12-17) (aged 81)\nMount Vernon, New York, USA.

🎂 Victor Francis Hess - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Victor Francis Hess die, Victor Francis Hess was 81 years old.

Popular As Victor Francis Hess
Occupation Scientists
Age 81 years old
Zodiac Sign Cancer
Born June 24, 1883 (Peggau, United States)
Birthday June 24
Town/City Peggau, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Victor Francis Hess’s zodiac sign is Cancer. According to astrologers, the sign of Cancer belongs to the element of Water, just like Scorpio and Pisces. Guided by emotion and their heart, they could have a hard time blending into the world around them. Being ruled by the Moon, phases of the lunar cycle deepen their internal mysteries and create fleeting emotional patterns that are beyond their control. As children, they don't have enough coping and defensive mechanisms for the outer world, and have to be approached with care and understanding, for that is what they give in return.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Victor Francis Hess was born in the Year of the Goat. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Goat enjoy being alone in their thoughts. They’re creative, thinkers, wanderers, unorganized, high-strung and insecure, and can be anxiety-ridden. They need lots of love, support and reassurance. Appearance is important too. Compatible with Pig or Rabbit.

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He was born to Vinzenz Hess and Serafine Edle von Grossbauer-Waldstätt, in Waldstein Castle, near Peggau in Styria, Austria on 24 June 1883. His father was a royal forester in Prince Louis of Oettingen-Wallerstein's Service. He attended secondary school at Graz Gymnasium from 1893 to 1901.


From 1901 to 1905 Hess was an undergraduate student at the University of Graz, and continued postgraduate studies in physics until he received his PhD there in 1910. He worked as Assistant under Stefan Meyer at the Institute for Radium Research, Viennese Academy of Sciences, from 1910 to 1920.


Between 1911 and 1913, Hess undertook the work that won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1936. For many years, Scientists had been puzzled by the levels of ionizing radiation measured in the atmosphere. The assumption at the time was that the radiation would decrease as the distance from the earth, the source of the radiation, increased. The electroscopes previously used gave an approximate measurement of the radiation, but indicated that at greater altitude in the atmosphere the level of radiation might actually be higher than that on the ground. Hess approached this mystery first by greatly increasing the precision of the measuring equipment, and then by personally taking the equipment aloft in a balloon. He systematically measured the radiation at altitudes up to 5.3 km during 1911-12. The daring flights were made both at day and during the night, at significant risk to himself.


Hess took a leave of absence in 1921 and travelled to the United States, working at the United States Radium Corporation, in New Jersey, and as Consulting Physicist for the US Bureau of Mines, in Washington DC. In 1923, he returned to the University of Graz, and was appointed the Ordinary Professor of Experimental Physics in 1925. The University of Innsbruck appointed him Professor, and Director Institute of Radiology, in 1931.


The result of Hess's meticulous work was published in the Proceedings of the Viennese Academy of Sciences, and showed the level of radiation decreased up to an altitude of about 1 km, but above that the level increased considerably, with the radiation detected at 5 km being about twice that at sea level. His conclusion was that there was radiation penetrating the atmosphere from outer space, and his discovery was confirmed by Robert Andrews Millikan in 1925, who gave the radiation the name "cosmic rays". Hess's discovery opened the door to many new discoveries in particle and nuclear physics. In particular, both the positron and the muon were first discovered in cosmic rays by Carl David Anderson. Hess and Anderson shared the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics.


Hess relocated to the United States with his Jewish wife in 1938, in order to escape Nazi persecution. The same year Fordham University appointed him Professor of Physics, and he later became a naturalized United States citizen in 1944. His wife died of cancer in 1955. The same year he married Elizabeth M. Hoenke, the woman who nursed Berta at the end of her life.


He was a practicing Roman Catholic [1], and in 1946 he wrote on the topic of the relationship between science and religion in his article "My Faith", in which he explained why he believed in God. He retired from Fordham University in 1958 and he died on 17 December 1964, in Mount Vernon, New York from Parkinson's disease.

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