From the Nippur-Elle to the gravitational wave interferometer - the exciting development of length measurement

TU Ilmenau Citizens' Campus

Topic:         From the Nippur ulna to the gravitational wave interferometer - The exciting development of length measurement.

Speaker:    Jun.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Kissinger, TU Ilmenau, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Head of the Group of Nanofabrication and Nanomeasurement Technology

Time:          Friday, 25.11.2022, 3:00 p.m.

Place:         TU Ilmenau, Faradaybau, Weimarer Straße 32

Admission: 5 Euro


The precise measurement of lengths, along with the measurement of weights, is of fundamental importance for the development of mankind. It allows standardization and division of labor in trade and industry and led to decisive scientific breakthroughs. Standardized measures of length have been used for thousands of years - mostly fixed on the basis of the limbs of kings. Later, the French Revolution put the definition of linear measures on an objective basis: the circumference of the earth. Since the 19th century, length measurement technology has been developing rapidly, driven by Ernst Abbe and Carl Zeiss in Jena, among others. However, a satisfactory definition of the meter is ultimately only permitted by tracing it back to a natural constant: the speed of light.

In his lecture as part of the TU Ilmenau Citizens' Campus, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Kissinger, head of the Group of Nanofabrication and Nanomeasurement Technology at TU Ilmenau, vividly takes us through the history of length measurement and demonstrates its fundamental importance for today's technological and scientific progress. Precision length measurement technology is an important driver of technological progress today, for example in the semiconductor industry. Important contributions to this are also made in Ilmenau, for example with high-precision nanopositioning and nanometrology machines designed here. Finally, length measurement at the very highest level of precision in a gravitational wave interferometer enabled direct observation of one groundbreaking phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein over a hundred years ago.



Dr. Uwe Geishendorf
Central Institute for Education
+49 3677 69-4675