WHEN in the second half of last century the political and economic union of Germany liad been effected, it was realized by far-seeing men that the new Reich could only maintain its position in the world, if the exact sciences, which had then reached a stage of development never before thought possible, were given adequate assistance by the State. In particular, there were many urgent physical problems, the solution of which was of the greatest importance for the general weal not only of Germany but also of the whole civilized world. This work could be undertaken only by a large State institute, in view of the considerable financial aid necessary to carry it out. For this reason, the Crown Prince Frederick, Werner v. Siemens, and Count Moltke took the matter up with the Government, and, in spite of much opposition, they obtained in 1886 the sanction of the Reichstag for the foundation of a “Physikalisch-Technischen Reichsanstalt” in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Hermann v. Helmholtz, the most famous physicist of his time, was appointed the first president of the new foundation, and took up his duties as director in 1887.
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The Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt Fifty Years of Progress. Nature 141, 352–354 (1938). https://doi.org/10.1038/141352a0