Georg von Békésy

Date of
June 3, 1899, in Budapest, Hungary
Date of
June 13, 1972, in Honolulu, Hawaii

Georg von Békésy was a Hungarian-American biophysicist who worked on physiology of hearing.

After studying chemistry in Bern, in 1923 Békésy was awarded a PhD in physics at the University of Budapest. He entered the service of the Hungarian Post Office, where he worked at the research laboratory on problems of long-distance telephone transmission.

Békésy remained at the Hungarian Post Office until 1946, spending one year in Berlin at the Central Laboratory of Siemens and Halske AG. He was professor of experimental physics at the University of Budapest from 1939 to 1946. He then left Hungary for a research stay at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and in 1947 moved to the United States. There, he worked at Harvard University in the psychoacoustic laboratory until 1966, when he became a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Békésy’s research focused on the function of the cochlea in the mammalian hearing organ. For his work in this area, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1961. In 1954, Békésy was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Key publications:

  • Békésy, Georg von. "Zur Theorie des Hörens. Die Schwingungsform der Basilarmembran." Physikalische Zeitschrift 29 (1928): 793–810.
  • Békésy, Georg von. "Zur Theorie des Hörens bei der Schallaufnahme durch Knochenleitung." Annalen der Physik 405 (1932): 111–136.
  • Békésy, Georg von. "Über den Knall und die Theorie des Hörens." Physikalische Zeitschrift 34 (1933): 577–582.
  • Békésy, Georg von. "Über die Frequenzauflösung in der menschlichen Schnecke." Acta Oto-Laryngologica 32, no. 1 (1944): 60-84.
  • Békésy, Georg von. Experiments in Hearing, ed. by E. G. Wever. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.
  • Békésy, Georg von. Sensory inhibition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.
  • Békésy, Georg von. "Some biophysical experiments from fifty years ago." Annual Review of Physiology 36 (1974): 1–16. 


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