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Friedrich Beck Edit Profile

physicist , university professor

Friedrich Beck, German physics professor. Member Dt.Physikalische Gesellschaft.


Beck was born in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was the son of the businessman Fritz Beck and his wife Margaret Cron.


Beck attended the Grammar School in Darmstadt and after that studied physics at University of Göttingen and Darmstadt University of Technology. In the spring of 1950 Beck started work on his PhD thesis entitled "The electrodynamic potential in the extended phenomenological theory of superconductivity", which he defended 1952 at University of Göttingen and obtained Doctor rerum naturalium.


His research interests were focused on superconductivity, nuclear and elementary particle physics, relativistic quantum field theory, and late in his life, biophysics and theory of consciousness. As a student of Max von Laue, he performed research on superconductivity. From 1952 to 1954 Beck worked as an assistant at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin.

Followed a research visit in the U.S. from 1954 to 1956 as a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Then Beck went to the University of Munich where in 1958 he wrote a Habilitation thesis on nuclear reactions as a result of electromagnetic interactions. From 1958 to 1960 he worked as a lecturer both at the University of Munich and Heidelberg University.

In 1960 Beck was appointed an Associate Professor of Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt. In 1963 he became a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Darmstadt University of Technology, where in the same year he took over the management of the Institute for Theoretical Nuclear Physics. Beck held visiting professorship positions several times.

From 1974 to 1975 he taught at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in 1976 at the Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, in 1979 at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1983 at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, in 1987 at the University of Washington in Seattle, in 1988 at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, and in 1991 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. After Beck's retirement in 1995, his successor at Darmstadt University of Technology became Professor Jochen Wambach. In 1991 Friedrich Beck met sir John Carew Eccles, a 1963 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, during a summer school in Northern Italy organized by a German foundation for the promotion of outstanding students.

In collaboration they developed a quantum mechanical model of exocytosis and neurotransmitter release at synapses in the human cerebral cortex. The model endorses interactionist dualism and postulates that human consciousness could affect the functioning of synapses in the brain through quantum tunneling of electrons between the lipid bilayers of the synaptic vesicle and the presynaptic membrane. The tunneling of electrons triggers the process of exocytosis and thus initiates the transmission of information from the presynaptic neuron towards the postsynaptic neuron.

The model proposed by Beck and Eccles is based on pure quantum tunneling and predicts temperature independence of exocytosis, which has been experimentally tested and found to be incorrect. Nevertheless, recent research has shown that the original Beck-Eccles model could be updated and zipping of SNARE proteins in exocytosis could be triggered by vibrationally assisted tunneling.


  • Other Work

    • Editor: (textbook) Theory of Relativity, 1962. Contributor more than 200 articles to professional journals.


Member Dt.Physikalische Gesellschaft.