The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Biographical Memoirs: Volume 64
experiments that yield new results. In this sense Bloch reached tremendous heights in both theory and experiment, and it can truly be said that he "made" physics in great leaps and discoveries.
In the detailed account of Felix's career which follows, I shall describe these and several other important advances made over the years. But I shall first speak about his background and early life, as he himself described it in a talk he gave at Stanford on January 20, 1970, entitled "How I Became a Physicist."
Felix Bloch was born in Zurich on October 23, 1905. This was the same year in which Albert Einstein made three transcendent discoveries in physics. His father was Gustav Bloch, a wholesale grain dealer in Zurich. His mother was Agnes Meyer Bloch, a cousin from Vienna. Gustav came from a large family living in western Bohemia and although he had strong interests in history and languages was unable to attend a university for financial reasons. He moved to Zurich in 1890 to take a position in his uncle's business and became a Swiss citizen. Gustav and Agnes had a daughter in 1902 and, as stated above, Felix was born in 1905. The name "Felix" means "lucky," and it was a propitious way to start out in life with this name.
The love of mountains that Felix acquired through vacations in the Alps remained a very deep part of his character all his life. He entered public elementary school when he was six years old. Experiences in school at that tender age were difficult for Felix, who spoke Swiss German with a somewhat different accent than most members of the class. He was also treated rather shabbily by his teacher. This led to a dislike for school, but his sister gave him strong support; when she died at the age of twelve, it was an extremely tragic event for him.
Felix led a depressed and isolated life in the years follow-