Békésy, György (George von) (Budapest, 3 June 1899 - Honolulu, HI, USA, 13 June 1972) – Biophysicist, scientist of acoustics. He was Nobel Prize winner in Medicine (1961) for “The discovery of the physical means of sound communication and analysis in the inner ear”. His father was a diplomat. His elemenatry studies were at Munich, Germany, and Constantinople, Turkey (1910-1913). His high school studies were in Zürich, Switzerland (1914-1916). He studied Chemistry at Bern University, and obtained his Ph.D. in physics in Budapest in 1923. He worked for a short time in Berlin, and later was chief engineer and researcher at the Postal Experimental Station (Postakísérleti Állomás) in Budapest. The results of his research were so outstanding that he was invited as Guest Professor by a number of universities abroad. In 1941 he took over the leadership of the Practical Physical Institute (Gyakorlati Fizikai Intézet). In 1946 he was a researcher at the Royal Carolinska Institute in Stockholm. In 1947 the Harvard University, at Cambridge, Mass. invited him, and he emigrated to the USA. He worked at the University as a leading researcher until 1966. He received the Nobel Prize mainly for the research that he accomplished in Hungary in the field of the acoustic function of the ear. He did not accept the invitation to be a professor either at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, or at the University of Göttingen, Germany. For health reasons he moved to Honolulu and became Professor of the Experimental Laboratories of the Sense Organs, a University Foundation Institute there. When he was still in Stockholm he constructed an automatic audiometer, known in the technical literature and medical terminology as “Békésy audiometer”. Acoustics was his main field of activity, but he also took an active role in the start of Hungarian broadcasting. At the beginning of his work he was interested in every acoustics problem; but later his interests turned more and more toward the biophysical problem of the ear. When the mechanism of the middle ear was worked out he was the first in the world who was to understand perfectly what goes on in the 1cm long snail-shaped cochlea. He solved the secret that was lying in the “corresponding vibration” in the cochlear fluid, which was not really understood before. In Honolulu, his main investigation centered on the cerebral reception of the corresponding vibration. Békésy was also internationally recognized as an expert on American Indian cultures. He left his valuable collection to the Nobel Foundation. He was member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and was a recipient of numerous medals. Several universities bestowed honorary doctorates on him. He was elected an honorary member of several academies of sciences. A Technical School in Budapest and a postdoctoral scholarship bear his name. – B: 0883, 1031, 1105, T: 7660.
Békésy, Miklós(Nicholas) (Münich, Germany, 3 August 1903 - Budapest, 25 November 1980) – Agriculturalist. His high school studies were at Pécs and his higher studies at the Agricultural Academy, Debrecen, where he acquired his Degree (1927). He obtained a Ph.D. from the Budapest Polytechnic (1938). He farmed at Gyulapuszta, where he observed a growth on rye called ergot. He guessed its pharmaceutical value, as it indeed contained ergotin, histamine etc. He developed a process that makes possible the artificial production of ergot now used worldwide. He lived in Budapest from 1933, and from 1934 he worked at the Medical Plant Research Station. Later he also worked for the Polytechnic of Budapest. He received a number of prizes, among them the Kossuth Prize (1954). – B: 0883, 1160, T: 7103.→Ergot.