Helmut Moritz

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Helmut Moritz (born November 1, 1933 in Graz ) is an Austrian geodesist . He is considered one of the most recognized representatives of physical geodesy.


Helmut Moritz was born in Graz in Austria . His father Josef Moritz was a calibration official and died in France during the Second World War in 1944. His mother Caroline Moritz was a housewife. Helmut Moritz attended elementary school from 1939 to 1943 , then the Academic Gymnasium in Graz until 1951 .

Moritz studied geodesy from 1951 to 1956 at the Graz University of Technology (TH Graz) and graduated in 1956 as a graduate engineer for surveying. One of his academic teachers was the mathematics professor Bernhard Baule . From 1955 to 1958 he worked as a research assistant at the TH Graz; In 1959 he was promoted to Dr. techn. PhD . From 1958 to 1964 he was employed in Graz as an official of the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying (BEV).

In 1960 he was at the Technical University Graz habilitation . On a two-year leave of absence from the BEV, he was a visiting research associate at the Department of Geodetic Science at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus , Ohio , USA, from 1962 to 1964, with a recommendation from Professor Karl Rinner . His research was strongly supported by the Finnish professor Weikko A. Heiskanen who worked there. Moritz quickly became internationally known for his fundamental work on error propagation. He himself became familiar with publications by the mathematicians and cyberneticists Norbert Wiener and Andrej Nikolajewitsch Kolmogorow and thereby expanded his academic teaching in theoretical geodesy . This was later reflected in the book Physical Geodesy, which was written together with Heiskanen ; this work was translated from English into Chinese, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish and Turkish and developed into a geodetic bestseller. A new edition written together with Bernhard Hofmann-Wellenhof appeared in 2005 and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Russian.

His first research stay at Ohio State University opened up long-term perspectives for Moritz, and he remained in professional contact with this university for more than 20 years. This university awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1992 as an expression of this bond and his outstanding academic achievements. In 1964 he initially returned to the BEV in Graz, soon afterwards he became a civil servant private lecturer at the TH Hannover . Here he continued his work from Columbus on the geodetic boundary value problem of the great Russian geodesist Molodensky for determining the shape of the earth from measurements of gravity and gravity potential. For his further work, in which Moritz himself sees a good part of his life's work, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Moscow University of Geodesy, Aerophotogrammetry and Cartography around 30 years later .

At the age of 30, Moritz was appointed full professor for physical geodesy at the Technical University of Berlin . From 1964 to 1971 he taught and researched here. In 1967 he received an offer from the University of Graz, which he did not accept because his appointment negotiations with the Ministry of Science and Research in Vienna were unsatisfactory. In 1971 he received a second call from Graz, which eventually led to his appointment as full professor at the Graz University of Technology . Within a year of his return to Graz, Moritz wrote the book Advanced Physical Geodesy , and this was followed by three more specialist books on the entire field of physical geodesy, geodynamics and the rotation of the earth. Moritz worked here in Graz until his retirement in 2002.

In Moritz's career his international activities played an increasingly important role; he speaks the following foreign languages : English, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Spanish and Czech. His early activities in the German Geodetic Commission meant that he was elected chairman in 1965. At that time his close scientific cooperation was established with the Technical University of Munich , which in 1981 awarded the first of three honorary doctorates to Moritz, who was only 48 years old.

He became chairman of a study group of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) on fundamental earth constants , which have not only geodetic, but also astronomical, geophysical and geographical significance. Moritz was President of the IAG from 1979 to 1983 . From 1991 to 1995 he was President of the International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) . Since 1987 he has been a member of the traditional Leopoldina in Halle (Saale) .

Since 1962 he has been working on the research area : theory of the earth's gravity field as the basis for measurements on the earth's surface and from satellites, geodetic applications of general relativity (1967 gradiometry). This research has been carried out as an adjunct professor at Ohio State University and within the framework of the International Association for Geodesy for more than 20 years . His research work has, among other things, contributed to the development of new measuring and computing techniques for describing the earth's figure . In doing so, he created the prerequisites for the precise determination of the earth's shape and gravity using modern satellites . Under the title Science, Mind and the Universe , he wrote presentations on natural philosophy, which also incorporated his own views. Moritz thus presented the basics of the natural sciences in an overall view. His life's work and his international work are shaped by the endeavor to make the humanity of science effective.

Moritz has been recognized worldwide and has received the Carl Friedrich Gauß Medal and the Alexander von Humboldt Medal, among others . He is a member of many national and international professional associations and academies, including as an honorary member of DVW Berlin-Brandenburg eV - Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Land Management and as a member of the learned society Leibniz Society of Sciences in Berlin .

Helmut Moritz had been married to Gerlinde Moritz since 1959 , who died in 2002. The couple have their daughter Berta (* 1960), who has a PhD in biology, and their son Albrecht (* 1962), who has a PhD in biochemistry.

Membership in international academies

  • 1970 Finland
  • 1974 Italy: Accademia Nazionale die Lincei
  • 1976 Austria: Corresponding member
  • 1977 Braunschweig Scientific Society
  • 1983 honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • 1984 Swedish Academy of Engineering
  • 1984 Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences
  • 1984 to 1992 Academy of Sciences of the GDR; continued 2001 Germany: Leibniz Society of Sciences in Berlin
  • 1985 Royal Astronomical Society
  • 1987 GDR / Germany: Leopoldina, Halle (Saale)
  • 1988 Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1992 Great Britain, London: Academia Europaea
  • 1994 Croatian Academy of Sciences
  • 1998 Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • 2001 Yugoslav Academy of Engineering.


  • 1963 Kaarina and WA Heiskanen Award, Ohio State University
  • 1977 Carl Friedrich Gauss Medal (on the occasion of the 200th birthday of the eponym), Braunschweigische Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft
  • 1983 Alexander von Humboldt Medal, Academy of Sciences of the GDR (AdW)
  • 1998 Copernicus Medal, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 2008 Struve Medal, Pulkovo
  • 2008 Tsiolkovsky Medal, Moscow
  • 1981 Honorary doctorate Dr.-Ing. hc from the Technical University of Munich
  • 1992 honorary doctorate DSc. hc from Ohio State University
  • 1994 honorary doctor Dr. hc from Moscow Geodetic University
  • 1993 Honorary Professor Prof. hc of the Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping, PR China
  • 2014 Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation
  • 1979–1983 President of the International Association for Geodesy
  • 1991–1995 President of the International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics
  • 1998–2002 General Director of the Inter-University Center Dubrovnik
  • 1998–2006 President of the International Humanist League in Sarajevo.

Asteroid 29250, an asteroid of the main belt, was named after Helmut Moritz .


Moritz's research results are reflected in 9 books and over 230 publications.

  • with Weikko A. Heiskanen : Physical Geodesy. Freeman, San Francisco CA et al. 1967.
  • Advanced Physical Geodesy (= Wichmann Collection. Vol. 13). Wichmann et al., Karlsruhe et al. 1980, ISBN 3-87907-106-3 .
  • Science, Mind and the Universe. An Introduction to Natural Philosophy. Wichmann, Heidelberg 1995, ISBN 3-87907-274-4 .
  • with Bernhard Hofmann-Wellenhof : Physical Geodesy. (New edition). Springer, Vienna et al. 2005, ISBN 3-211-23584-1 .
  • Berta Moritz, Helmut Moritz: About natural laws and evolution. A contribution to an interdisciplinary dialogue. Publisher: IMABE, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-85297-004-2 .


  • Herbert Mang : Laudation to Prof. Helmut Moritz, on behalf of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Meeting reports of the Leibniz Society of Sciences in Berlin. Volume 104, year 2009, pp. 7-16. trafo Wissenschaftsverlag Dr. Wolfgang Weist, Berlin 2009.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Member entry by Prof. Dr. Helmut Moritz (with picture and CV) at the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina , accessed on July 18, 2016.