Bergmann, Peter G(abriel) 1915-2002
BERGMANN, Peter G(abriel) 1915-2002
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 24, 1915, in Berlin, Germany; died October 19, 2002, in Seattle, WA. Physicist, educator, and author. Bergmann was an assistant to physicist Albert Einstein and was at the forefront of teaching and promoting Einstein's theory of relativity. After graduating from the University of Prague in 1936 he went to work for Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He remained there for five years, helping the famous scientist with his development of a unified field theory. Most famously, it was Bergmann who proposed that an explanation for all the forces in nature might be tied together if there were a fifth dimension that existed in addition to the other four known dimensions. Although Einstein himself did not pursue this theory, it has in more recent times become a central concern to physicists working on a grand unified theory. Bergmann left Einstein in 1941 to take on several university and scientific institute posts, including at Black Mountain College, Lehigh University, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In 1947 he joined the faculty at Syracuse University, where he remained until 1982, retiring as professor emeritus. It was here that he became well known as a teacher of Einstein's theories; indeed, for some time Syracuse was the only place students could attend if they were interested in studying relativity. The book he used for his courses was his own 1942 work, Introduction to the Theory of Relativity, which was the standard text at universities for decades. Bergmann was also the author of Basic Theories of Physics (1949), The Riddle of Gravitation (1968; third edition, 1992), and Gravitation and Modern Cosmology: The Cosmological Constant Problem (1991), as well as an editor and contributor to several other books. After retiring from Syracuse, Bergmann took a post as a research professor at New York University until 1999, when his health began to decline and he moved to Seattle to be with his son.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
American Men and Women of Science, 20th edition, Bowker (New Providence, NJ), 1998.
Who's Who in Technology, seventh edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
New York Times, October 23, 2002, p. A23.