17 October 2022
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.
Fantastic view of Innsbruck, the Inn Valley, the Wipp Valley and the mountain ranges to the south - when the fog lifts.

But on the Hafelekar, the newly renovated "Victor Franz Hess Measuring Station" will be opened on September 29, 2022. And I would like to be there. Along with the Historical Observatory, it is one of Innsbruck's architectural gems that I hope will attract a lot of attention - and that have written scientific history.

So up with the Hungerburgbahn and on with the cable car to the Seegrube, towards the Hafelekar. In the snow, the unspectacular hut a few minutes' walk above the mountain station looks even more inconspicuous. On the right, it would go to the Hafelekarspitze, normally also a walk, but in this weather on slippery ground now not exactly what my heart desires. When the fog clears a bit, briefly rips open, the view is already such a hammer.

Originally used as a construction hut, the small building served and still serves the university as a measuring station.

Originally, the university measuring station was a construction hut of the Nordkettenbahnen, which were opened in 1928. In the 1930s, Victor Franz Hess continued the measurements here for the discovery that was to fundamentally change our view of the universe. In 1911/12, Hess had flown up to an altitude of around 5,000 meters in a balloon to provide evidence of cosmic radiation. A groundbreaking discovery that opened up various new fields of research and continues to drive essential investigations in physics to this day.

The stations of Hess's life can be found on display boards, illustrated with reproductions of historical pictures and documents.

The small wood-paneled rooms were not made for many people, but they were excellently suited as a measuring station. The sensitive instruments could be brought up by train and the station could be reached in a short time, even in winter. These were ideal conditions and one of the reasons why Victor Franz Hess accepted the appointment at the University of Innsbruck in 1931.

in 1936, Hess received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of extraterrestrial radiation, and the following year he accepted a professorship in Graz. The fact that the Austrian quantum physicist and newly crowned 2022 Nobel Prize winner in physics, Anton Zeilinger, also researched and taught in Innsbruck from 1990 to 1999 shows what a good reputation the University of Innsbruck still has in this field today.

During the Nazi era, Hess emigrated to the USA and took US citizenship. After the war, the world-famous scientist visited Innsbruck three more times. in 1958 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Innsbruck. On the day before his 75th birthday, he stood for the last time on the Hafelekar, in "his" measuring station.

One of the few objects, the plain desk of the Nobel Prize winner in the measuring station

Holographic projections bring the life and work of the physicist to life.

Science history gem

For the time being, access to the premises is reserved for university specialist groups. A bit of a pity, but maybe that will change. At the opening, the participants were able to take a look inside the hut. The rooms radiate a special atmosphere. They have been preserved in their original state and provide insights into the early research activities in the field of cosmic rays.

On the walls there are display boards describing the life, work and activities of Victor Franz Hess and placing them in a scientific-historical context. In addition, there are numerous photo reproductions and the scientist's desk.

Extensive research

Besides Hess, the research site at Hafelekar served other researchers for their investigations. In 1937, for example, Marietta Blau and Hertha Wambacher were able to observe on photographic plates exposed here how a particle of the cosmic rays shattered an atomic nucleus. In the 1960s and 1970s, a neutron monitor and muon detectors were in operation at the measuring station. With these, the two researchers succeeded in individually measuring two types of particles contained in the cosmic rays and making other important observations.

The Victor Franz Hess measuring station is still in use today. In the meantime, the data is digitally transmitted to the respective research groups.

The Victor Franz Hess Measuring Station received the EPS "Historic Site" award.

On the occasion of the opening at the end of September, the European Physical Society (EPS) awarded the measuring station the title EPS Historic Site. The internationally active organization has around 80 member societies and research institutes, plus individuals. Altogether, EPS represents about 130,000 scientists from all over the world, as the EPS representative present, Rüdiger Voss, noted.

With the plaque, the Victor Franz Hess Measuring Station now ranks among the outstanding historic sites of physics internationally. A total of 56 facilities have been honored with this distinction to date. The Hafelekar is the third in Austria and the first outside Vienna (Institute for Radium Research Vienna, Atomic Institute of the Vienna University of Technology).

Freshly renovated and excellent, the Victor Franz Hess measuring station on the Hafelekar.

Victor Franz Hess measuring station

A few minutes walk north of the Hafelekar/Nordkettenbahnen mountain station

From Innsbruck, take line J or the Hungerburgbahn to the Nordkettenbahnen valley station and then continue via the Seegrube to the Hafelekar.

Can only be visited from the outside!

More info at

Photos, unless otherwise indicated: © Susanne Gurschler

Information on other sights in Innsbruck can be found at www.innsbruck. info.

Freshly renovated and awarded the distinction of "Historic Site" - the Victor Franz Hess Measuring Station made scientific history.

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