Bachelor of Arts, Harvard College, 1936; student, Cambridge U., 1936-1937; Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, 1940; Doctor of Science (honorary), University Strathclyde, 1979.
On the advice of his family neighbour and future, Helmolz moved to the University of California, Berkeley for his graduate education. At Berkeley, he worked with Ernest Lawrence and Edwin McMillan at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory (which later became the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) on radioactive materials. In 1942, Helmholz worked with the Manhattan Project for using cyclotron magnets to separate uranium which was later used in the development of the first atomic bomb.
Helmholz joined the University of California Berkeley physics department as an assistant professor in 1943.
He worked on synchrotron accelerators to study the properties of high-energy particle interactions. Helmholz along with Burton Moyer made one of the first measurements of resonances in subatomic physics in the pion-nucleon interaction.
Over his career at Berkeley, Helmholz supervised more than sixty doctoral students. He also served as the chair of the University of California Berkeley physics department from 1955 to 1962.
Fellow American Physical Society. Member American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association Physics Teachers, American Association of University Professors, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi.
Married Elizabeth J. Little, July 30, 1938. Children: Charlotte C.K. Colby, George L., Frederic V., Edith H. Roth.