Hermann von Helmholtz (from 1821 to 1894)
An all-round genius with an eye for practical applications
The name Hermann von Helmholtz stands for the full diversity of scientific research and its orientation towards technological practice. He was one of the last true polymaths. Helmholtz represented a form of natural science that built bridges between medicine, physics and chemistry.
He also devoted himself to psychology, music and philosophy. His ground-breaking research work and developments combined theory, experimentation and practical application. The ophthalmoscope for examining the retina is one of Helmholtz’s many developments that are still used (in a modern form) to this day. His research into the conversion of matter led to his formulation of the conservation of energy principle. Helmholtz founded the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt and served as its first president. The Reichsanstalt was the world’s first scientific research centre outside of a university and is therefore a forerunner to the Helmholtz Association.