MARGULES, MAX

MARGULES, MAX
MARGULES, MAX (1856–1920), Austrian meteorologist. Born in Brody, Margules lectured in Vienna on mathematics and physics from 1880 to 1882. His refusal to convert to Christianity blocked his academic advancement and he left the university to become secretary of the Central Institute of Meteorology in Vienna. He held this post for 24 years. In 1906, still refusing to convert and disappointed with his lack of academic success under the Austro-Hungarian academic system, he retired on early pension. He left the field of meteorological research, set up a chemical laboratory in his home, and concentrated on independent research. The post-World War I inflation rendered his small pension insufficient to live on, and he died from malnutrition. Margules' first group of writings dealt with the changes of barometric pressure and their diurnal double fluctuations due to inner oscillations and waves in the free atmosphere of the earth. The second group of writings dealt with the effect of hot and cold air masses on climate. In the 1890s, he organized a network of closely spaced stations in a 60-kilometer circumference around Vienna, fitted with thermo-barographs. He showed the progress of the cold and hot waves of pressure and storms, and was able to arrive at an understanding of the phenomenon. In 1901 he showed that the kinetic energy in storms would have to be much greater in order to be produced by the pressure gradient. His conclusion later replaced the accepted theory on the generation of winds. Margules published his most important work on the energy of storms in 1903 (in Jahrbuch der Zentralanstalt fuer Metereologie und Geodynamik). Here he replaced "the energy of the storm" with the "potential energy of distribution of masses on the vertical plane" known as the Margules equation. This introduced a three-dimensional distribution of energy in place of the previously accepted two-dimensional distribution. He stressed that the study of air masses in their space expansion led to an understanding of their movements and proved the impossibility of understanding the problem according to methods of surface barometers only. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.C. Poggendorff, Biographisch-literarisches Handwoerterbuch, 3 (1898); 4 (1904); 5 (1926); Wininger, Biog, S.V. Margulies, Max, includes bibliography. (Dov Ashbel)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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