Marian Ritter von Smolan Smoluchowski Austria Poland

Biography of Marian Ritter von Smolan Smoluchowski

Marian entry in Natural Philosophy student entrance register 1896-97
Marian entry in Natural Philosophy student entrance register 1896-97

Marian Ritter von Smolan Smoluchowski, known as the father of Stochastic Physics, enrolled at the University of Glasgow from 1896-97 as a research student of Lord Kelvin.

Smoluchowski was born in Mödling, Austria. He graduated PhD from the University of Vienna in 1894, receiving a scholarship from the Imperial Ministry for Culture and Education to undertake two years post-doctoral research at other European universities, including Paris and Berlin. At the University of Glasgow, he enrolled in the Physics Laboratory class in 1896 as a Research Fellow under Lord Kelvin in the Faculty of Science. His proposed research was on “The electric effects produced in gases by Roentgens Rays, Uranium and Ultraviolet Rays, which he submitted on 18 February 1897. Smoluchowski produced several papers during his time at Glasgow in collaboration with Lord Kelvin and Dr John Carruthers Beattie, another of Kelvin's research students, presenting to the Royal Society of Edinburgh and publishing in the Philosophical Magazine.

Kelvin left a lasting impression on Smoluchowski and his later research. In a letter to his brother dated January, 1897, he wrote: “Lord Kelvin seems always greatly excited. Every day some different problem seems most interesting to him and he forgets everything else. He is impatient and cannot perform the experiments himself but could keep busy with his ideas a whole army of experimental physicists.” In 1908, he also published an article entitled “Lord Kelvin”.

Smoluchowski returned as lecturer to Vienna and then to Lviv in 1899, where he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1900, the youngest professor in Austria.

Smoluchowski returned to the University of Glasgow again in 1901 for the 450th anniversary of its foundation, where he received an honorary doctorate, LLD.

He became Professor and later chair in Experimental Physics Department of the Jagellonian University of Krakow from 1913, and served as Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy during 1916-17. In 1917 he was elected rector, a position which he was never able to take up as he contracted dysentery during an epidemic in the summer of 1917 which led to his death at the age of 45.


Other Online Resources


Marian Ritter von Smolan Smoluchowski
Born 28 May 1872.
Died 5 September 1917.
GU Degrees: Science and Engineering, 1896-97; LLD, 1901;
University Link: Honorary Graduate, Researcher
Occupation categories: physicists
English snippet: Pioneering Polish physicist
Record last updated: 20th Aug 2015

Country Associations

Austria Austria, Mödling
Place of Birth

Poland Poland, Krakow
Place of Death

University Connections

University Roles

  • Honorary Graduate
  • Researcher