1936 Nobel Prize in chemistry recipient, Peter Debye. His career would next take him to the University of Munich, as the director of the Theoretical Physics Institute. While there, he mentored Werner Heisenburg, a key pioneer of Quantum Mechanics. In 1932, Heisenburg went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics.
His stay in Munich was fascinating. This is because, while there, he also mentored yet another Nobel Prize recipient Wolfgang Pauli. Sommerfeld helped him prepare and perfect thesis on quantum theory. Pauli won the 1945 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the Pauli Exclusion Principle. I am pretty sure you think it ends there, but there’s more. Quite interestingly, he also played a mentorship role in the career of Hans Bethe, and Hans’s theory of stellar nucleosynthesis helped him secure the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physics.
In 1918 Sommerfeld was appointed chair of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, a seat earlier held by the celebrated physicist Albert Einstein. Over his long and successful career, he made plenty of contributions to theoretical physics. These include groundbreaking work in electromagnetism, quantum physic, hydrodynamics, and the X-ray wave theory. Sommerfeld’s legacy, however, was built on being one of the most influential educators of his eras. Albert Einstein once said that he admired Sommerfeld’s gift of nurturing young talent to become some of the most influential scientists of their time.
Sommerfeld, over his lifetime, received numerous awards and accolades, including the esteemed Lorentz Medal, Max-Planck Medal, and the Oersted Medal. Even though he never won a Nobel Prize in Physics in his lifetime, he had been nominated an incredible record-setting 84 times, with multiple nominations between 1917 and 1951.
Sommerfeld was an esteemed member of the U.S National Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society.
Sommerfeld passed away at the age of 82 after he was involved in a tragic accident while taking his grandkids for a walk in 1951.