von Baeyer, Hans

Hans von Baeyer


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Born in Berlin in 1938, von Baeyer was raised in Germany, Switzerland, and Canada before earning his BA from Columbia University (1958) and his PhD from Vanderbilt University (1964). After a postdoctoral appointment at McGill University he joined the College of William and Mary in Virginia where he rose from assistant professor to Chancellor Professor, specializing in various aspects of mathematical physics. His administrative duties included the departmental chairmanship and the directorship of the predecessor of the Jefferson Lab, an important nuclear accelerator.

The second half of his career was devoted to popularization of physics. He has written about a hundred articles and six widely translated books, including Information: The New Language of Science (Harvard, 2003) and Petites leons de physique dans les jardins de Paris (Dunod, 2009). He has won numerous teaching and writing honors, among them a National Magazine Award and two writing awards from the American Institute of Physics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society. A Unitarian Universalist, von Baeyer has written and lectured on the relationship between science and religion. He has four children and three grandchildren, and with his wife, a medieval archeologist, divides his time between Virginia and Paris