Georg von Békésy
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1961
Born: 3 June 1899, Budapest, Hungary
Died: 13 June 1972, Honolulu, HI, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his discoveries of the physical mechanism of stimulation within the cochlea."
Prize share: 1/1
Our hearing works because sound waves from the surrounding world are converted in the ear into vibrations in membranes and bones. These are further converted into electrical impulses that are passed on to the brain, resulting in auditory impressions. In a series of studies from 1940 to the 1960s, Georg von Békésy clarified how processes in the cochlea in the inner ear proceed, in part by studying vibrations in membranes with the help of a microscope and sequences of photographs as well as by measuring variations in electrical charges in the receptors.