Hecht, Selig

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HECHT, SELIG (1892–1947), U.S. biophysicist. Hecht was born in Glogau, Austria, and was taken to the United States as a child. He carried out extensive research in physical chemistry and physiology, both in the United States and elsewhere. He taught biophysics at Columbia University in New York from 1926 until his death. Hecht was a pioneer in the physiology of vision and propounded the photochemical theory of vision. His experiments showed that minute quantities of light are sufficient to cause a reaction by the human retina. Measuring the visual properties of insects, he proved that in terms of light sensitivity these are much the same as for creatures with eyes. He was also an exponent of popular science; in particular his Explaining the Atom was widely read.

[J. Edwin Holmstrom]