Walter Thirring

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Walter Thirring
Born (1927-04-29) 29 April 1927 (age 91)
Vienna, Austria
Nationality Austrian
Alma mater University of Vienna
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions University of Vienna
Doctoral advisor Felix Ehrenhaft
Doctoral students Peter C. Aichelburg
Peter Grassberger
Michael Reeken
Franz Schwabl
Harald Grosse

Walter Thirring (born 29 April 1927) is an Austrian physicist after whom the Thirring model in quantum field theory is named.[1] He is son of the physicist Hans Thirring, co-discoverer of the Lense-Thirring frame dragging effect in general relativity.[2][3][4]

Walter Thirring was born in Vienna, Austria, where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1949 at the age of 22. In 1959 he became a professor for theoretical physics at the University of Vienna, and from 1968 to 1971 he was head of the Theory Division and director at CERN.

Besides pioneering work in quantum field theory, Walter Thirring devoted his scientific life to mathematical physics. He is author of one of the first textbooks on quantum electrodynamics as well as of a four volume course in mathematical physics.

In 2000, he received the Henri Poincaré Prize of the International Association of Mathematical Physics.[5]

Walter Thirring authored Cosmic Impressions, Templeton Press, Philadelphia and London, in 2007, and in that book he sums up his feelings about the scientific discoveries made by modern cosmology:
In the last decades, new worlds have been unveiled that our great teachers wouldn’t have even dreamed of. The panorama of cosmic evolution now enables deep insights into the blueprint of creation…. Human beings recognize the blueprints, and understand the language of the Creator…. These realizations do not make science the enemy of religion, but glorify the book of Genesis in the Bible.

His memoirs were published in 2010 as The Joy of Discovery: Great Encounters Along the Way by World Scientific Publishing Company. He recollects encounters with scientists like Einstein, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Pauli and others as well as his collaborations with Murray Gell-Mann and Elliott Lieb.[1]

Honours and awards

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Physicswiki.


  • Selected papers of Walter E. Thirring with Commentaries. American Mathematical Society, 1998, ISBN 0821808125
  • Einführung in die Quantenelektrodynamik. Deuticke, Wien 1955
    • Principles of quantum electrodynamics. Academic Press, New York 1958; 2nd edn. 1962
  • with Ernest M. Henley: Elementare Quantenfeldtheorie. BI Verlag, Mannheim 1975
  • Erfolge und Misserfolge der theoretischen Physik. In: Physikalische Blätter Jg. 33 (1977), p. 542ff. (Singularitäty theorem of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, KAM-theory, stability of matter, lecture delivered at the presentation of the Max Planck medal)
  • Lehrbuch der Mathematischen Physik. Springer (trans. into English by Evans M. Harrel as A course in mathematical physics)
    • 1. Klassische Dynamische Systeme. 1988, ISBN 3-211-82089-2; trans. as Classical dynamical systems[6]
    • 2. Klassische Feldtheorie. 1990, ISBN 3-211-82169-4; trans. as Classical field theory
    • 3. Quantenmechanik von Atomen und Molekülen. 1994, ISBN 3-211-82535-5; trans. as Quantum mechanics of atoms and molecules
    • 4. Quantenmechanik großer Systeme. 1998, ISBN 3-211-81604-6; trans. as Quantum mechanics of large systems
  • Stabilität der Materie. In: Naturwissenschaften. Springer, Berlin Jg. 73 (1986), p. 705ff.
  • Kosmische Impressionen. Gottes Spuren in den Naturgesetzen. Molden, Wien 2004, ISBN 3-85485-110-3
  • Einstein entformelt. Wie ein Teenager ihm auf die Schliche kam. Seifert Verlag, Wien 2007, co-author Cornelia Faustmann, ISBN 3-902-40642-9
  • Lust am Forschen: Lebensweg und Begegnungen. Seifert Verlag, Wien 2008, ISBN 978-3902406583


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  2. Thirring, H. Über die Wirkung rotierender ferner Massen in der Einsteinschen Gravitationstheorie. Physikalische Zeitschrift 19, 33 (1918). (On the Effect of Rotating Distant Masses in Einstein's Theory of Gravitation)
  3. Thirring, H. Berichtigung zu meiner Arbeit: "Über die Wirkung rotierender Massen in der Einsteinschen Gravitationstheorie". Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29 (1921). (Correction to my paper "On the Effect of Rotating Distant Masses in Einstein's Theory of Gravitation")
  4. Lense, J. and Thirring, H. Über den Einfluss der Eigenrotation der Zentralkörper auf die Bewegung der Planeten und Monde nach der Einsteinschen Gravitationstheorie. Physikalische Zeitschrift 19 156-63 (1918) (On the Influence of the Proper Rotation of Central Bodies on the Motions of Planets and Moons According to Einstein's Theory of Gravitation)
  5. The Henri Poincaré Prize.
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