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Philipps-Universität was founded in 1527. Physics in the modern sense, however, did not yet exist; the subject was part of the medical studies program at that time.

Of the outstanding scientists who taught, researched or studied in Marburg, Denis Papin, who worked here from 1688, would be one of the first who comes to mind. He developed a steam-driven water pump and is regarded as one of the inventors of the steam engine. Another well-known scientific figure is Mikhail V. Lomonossow, who lived in Marburg from 1736-1739 as a student of the philosopher and physicist Christian Wolff. He later translated Wolf’s textbook on experimental physics into Russian.

The Institute of Physics moved to its current location in the Renthof neighborhood under Christian Ludwig Gerling, who held a professorship here in Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy between 1817 and 1864. However, the space and equipment available back then was rather modest by today’s standards. The famous Irish physicist John Tyndall, who was the first to explain why the sky is blue, also worked here at the time. Nobel Prize winner Karl Ferdinand Braun (one of the founders of wireless telegraphy and the inventor of the cathode-ray tube) taught theoretical physics in Marburg from 1877 to 1880. Alongside Franz Joseph Matthias Richarz (investigator of Heusler alloys), Erich Hückel (founder of theoretical chemistry), Clemens Schäfer and Eduard Grüneisen (originator of the Gruneisen constant), Alfred Lothar Wegener (who developed the idea of continental drift here in 1911), also deserves a special mention. Otto Hahn, who discovered nuclear fission, received his doctorate in Chemistry at Marburg.

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