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Prof. Karl von Terzaghi

Nature volume 143, page 753 (06 May 1939) | Download Citation



THE forty-fifth James Forrest Lecture of the Institution of Civil Engineers was delivered on May 2 by Prof. K. von Terzaghi, who took as his subject “Soil Mechanics: A New Chapter in Engineering Science”. Prof, von Terzaghi was born at Prague in 1883 and, after attending the Technical University of Graz, was engaged on projects for hydro-electric developments and other construction-projects in Austria, Hungary and Russia until 1912, when he proceeded to the United States and was chiefly engaged in the study of modern dam construction and problems of engineering geology in connexion with the projects of the United States Reclamation Service. During the Great War he served in the Austrian Army until in 1916 he was transferred to the Technical University of Constantinople to take over the chair of foundation and highway engineering. From 1918 until 1925 he was professor and head of the Department of Civil Engineering of the American Robert College in Turkey. During this period, he was engaged on research in connexion with the physical properties of the most important types of soils and published in 1925 his book “Erdbau-mechanik”, which is acknowledged as the basis of modern soil mechanics. Between 1925 and 1936, Prof, von Terzaghi was lecturing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Technical University in Vienna, the Technical University in Berlin-Char-lottenburg and at Harvard University. He was president of the first International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, which was held at Harvard University in 1936. In addition to his contributions to civil engineering, Prof, von Terzaghi has advanced knowledge in the field of physical chemistry and geology, his best-known work perhaps being his mechanical theory of swelling of gels.

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