Karl Schwarzschild is the eldest of six children.
His father, of Jewish religion, is a successful businessman from Frankfurt.
The young Karl can enjoy a relatively easy and frequent child of artists and musicians from an early age. His curiosity about the stars is manifested in its early school years, when he built a small telescope.
Witness to this interest, his father introduced him to a mathematician friend who has a private observatory. Schwarszchild learns to use a telescope and studied advanced mathematics.
At 16, he published two articles on the orbits of double stars. In 1891, he undertook two years of study at the University of Strasbourg, where he developed his mastery of experimental astronomy.
At 20, he entered the University of Munich and three years later, he obtained a doctorate.
During these years he developed a multi-slit interferometer allowing better separation of double stars with a telescope.
He was hired as an assistant at the Observatory in Ottakring Kuffner where he devoted himself mainly to the photometry. He then performed a pioneering work to improve the photographic plates and implement their use in astronomy. Until that time, the brightness of a star was measured to the eye.
In 1900, at a conference, he discussed the possibility for the universe to have a non-Euclidean geometry. At the same time, he is also interested in comets and in particular the fact that their tails are always directed in opposite to the Sun.
Using the principle of radiation pressure, it shows that the diameter of the particles making up the tail of the comet should be between 0.07 μ and 1.5 μ.
In 1907 the German astronomer who is the first set, what we now call black holes. While he is at the front during the First World War, it offers a surprising way to solve the equations of Einstein's general relativity.
Between two calculations of trajectories of artillery, Schwarzschild noticed an enormous amount of weight like a star very dense, concentrated in a small area, so distort the fabric of space time that nothing, not even light can not escape its gravitational field.
For several decades physicists have questioned the calculations of German.
This idea remained in the state of a simple theory. But today space telescopes probe the space and find regions with a massive gravitational field.
Most scientists consider these regions as black holes. Schwarzschild's theory seems to have become reality. This study on relativistic geometry of space around a point mass, derives the "Schwarzschild radius" that defines the horizon or the boundary of a black hole. This distance is the distance beyond which neither the light nor matter can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole.
He is also interested in energy transfer near the surface of the Sun, electrodynamics and geometrical optics. In 1909, he was offered the prestigious position of Director of the Potsdam.
Throughout his life, Schwarzschild strives to make astronomy accessible to all people and to communicate his love for this science.
Thus, during the eight years he was professor at Göttingen, a popular astronomy courses so successful that the observatory became the meeting place of a crowd of people. Avid outdoorsman, he is a bit of skiing and mountaineering.
Passionate about the balloon flight, he developed a sextant specially adapted for flight. When war broke out, he enlisted as a volunteer.
Assigned to the artillery on the Russian front, he contracted an incurable disease and must return in March 1916.
Karl Schwarzschild died in Potsdam, the same year, May 11, 1916.
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Image: Karl Schwarzschild was the first set, what we now call black holes offering a surprising way to solve the equations of Einstein's general relativity.