Huber, Maksymilian Tytus

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Huber, Maksymilian Tytus

(b. Krościenko, Poland, 4 January 1872; d. Cracow, Poland, 9 December 1950)

mechanics, theory of elasticity.

Huber’s aptitude for mathematics and mechanics was already apparent during his first year of studies at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Lvov Institute of Technology, which he entered in 1889. His first scientific publication appeared in 1890. On obtaining his diploma, he became a teaching assistant of the Lvov Institute and studied mathematics for a year at the University of Berlin. From 1899 to 1906 he was lecturer and professor of mechanics at the Industrial High School, Cracow, later returning to Lvov as a lecturer and later professor of technical mechanics at the Institute of Technology.

Huber was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army after the outbreak of World War I and was captured by the Russians in 1915. He was then able to continue scientific work, partly as a result of help from Stepan Timoshenko, whose textbook on strength of materials he translated into Polish. After his return to Lvov in 1918, Huber was rector of the Institute of Technology in 1921–1922; in 1928 he became director of the department of mechanics at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Warsaw Institute of Technology. In 1920 he was one of the founding members of the Academy of Engineering Sciences, of which he was president from 1928 to 1930. He became a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Learning in 1927 and was an active member in 1934. From 1931 he was an ordinary member of the Warsaw Scientific Society.

During the German occupation of 1939–1945, when all Polish institutions of higher education were closed, Huber taught in a technical school and secretly gave instruction at the institute level. As representative of the resistance movement, he distributed financial aid to the employees of the Warsaw Institute of Technology. After the Warsaw Insurrection of 1944 he settled in Zakopane, where he directed underground technical courses. After the liberation of Poland, Huber became professor at the Gdańsk Institute of Technology, and in 1949 he moved to the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy, Cracow.

Huber’s main area of scientific contribution was the theory of orthotropic (orthogonally anisotropic) plates. Work on this theory was begun in 1860 by Franz Gehring; but it remained for Huber to establish the fundamental assumptions, to give methods for the solution of variously supported plates, and to bring solutions to a form directly applicable in engineering practice—for example, in computing reinforced concrete plates. His work on plates was summarized in his 1928 lectures at the Zurich Technische Hochschule, published as Probleme der Statik technisch wichtiger orthotroper Platten (Warsaw, 1929).

The second major area was strength theories. In 1885 Eugenio Beltrami proposed that the critical state of deformed material may be defined by the magnitude of strain energy per unit volume. Since this hypothesis did not agree with experiments, Huber propsed in his 1904 paper “Właściwa praca odkształcenia jako miara wytężenia materiału” (“Strain Energy as a Measure of Critical State of Material”) that in determination of the critical state only the energy of distortion may be considered. Richard von Mises (1913) and Heinrich Hencky (1924) independently reached conclusions analogous to those of Huber; and this experimentally confirmed and generally accepted theory is therefore known as the Huber-Mises-Hencky theory.

Huber’s third important achievement relates to the concept of an absolute measure of hardness, proposed by Heinrich Hertz (1881–1882) in the solution of the case of coterminous bodies. In his doctoral dissertation, “Zur Theorie der Berührung fester elastischer Körper” (1904), Huber proved that a measure of hardness depends not only on the material but also on the shape of the bodies.

Besides these works Huber wrote more than 250 scientific publications; many of the results were included in his basic textbook Teoria sprężystości (“Theory of Elasticity”; Cracow, 1948–1950).


I. Original Works. Huber’s works were brought together as Pisma (“Writings”), 5 vols. (Warsaw, 1954–1964). Teoria sprężystości (“Theory of Elasticity”) constitutes vols. IV and V. There are also the textbooks Mechanika ogólna i techniczna (“General and Technical Mechanics”; Warsaw, 1956); and Steroemechanika techniczna (“Technical Stereomechanics”; Warsaw, 1958).

II. Secondary Literature. Pisma, I, includes a comprehensive account of Huber’s scientific activities and a bibliography of his publications. See also Polski Słownik biograficzny, (“Polish Biographical Dictionary”), X (Wrocław–Warsaw–Cracow, 1962), 74–76; and S. P. Timoshenki, History of strength of Materials (New York-Tornonto-London, 1953), pp. 369, 410.

Eugeniusz Olszewski

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Huber, Maksymilian Tytus

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