Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Karman, Theodor von
Theodor von Karman (tā´ōdôr´ fôn kär´män), 1881–1963, American aeronautical engineer, b. Hungary, grad. Royal Technical Univ., Budapest (1902), and Univ. of Göttingen, Germany (Ph.D., 1908). From 1909 to 1912 he served as director of the aeronautical institute at the Univ. of Aachen. He came to the United States in 1930, was naturalized in 1936, and was on the staff of the California Institute of Technology from 1930 to 1949. He made many contributions to the field of aerodynamics and is known especially for his mathematical formulas called the von Karman theory of vortex streets. These formulas are used in the calculation of the resistance by air to objects (e.g., aircraft, rockets) moving through it. His writings include Aerodynamics (1954) and his autobiography, Wind and Beyond (with Lee Edson, publ. posthumously, 1967).