Herbert B. Callen

University of Pennsylvania

July 1, 1919 - May 22, 1993


Election Year: 1990
Scientific Discipline: Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type: Member

Herbert B. Callen was a theoretical physicist whose work on thermodynamics and thermostatistics had a wide influence on modern physics. He established a fluctuation dissipation theorem describing systems that dissipate energy into heat, which laid the foundation for our modern understanding of how electricity flows.  During World War II, Callen worked on atomic bomb research for the Manhattan Project, and he worked on guided missile telemetry for the Navy’s “Project Bumblebee” at Princeton University.  In 1948, he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, and he became a professor of physics in 1956. 

Callen went to Temple University and received his B.S. (1941) and M.A. (1942) degrees in physics.  He then earned his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1947.  From 1965 to 1966, Callen served as the chairman of the National Advisory Board of the National Magnet Laboratory at MIT.  He was also the chairman of the Physics Advisory Panel of the National Science Foundation for a year in 1969.  He was a visiting professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and The University of Recife in Brazil.  For his research in statistical physics, Callen received the Elliott Cresson Medal of Benjamin Franklin Institute of Science in 1984.  

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