PIET HEIN (1905 - 96)
Piet Hein was born in 1905 in Copenhagen as the son of an engineer and an ophthamologist, and upon completion of his primary education, began to take classes in introductions to philosophy at the University of Copenhagen in 1924. He soon left to study the arts at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm before switching back to studying philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, along with theoretical physics at the Niels Bohr Institute. He considered himself a scientist as well as an artist, and in addition to his many papers on physics and mathematics, also wrote a number of short poems under the psuedonym “Kumbel” which has sold millions of copies and has been translated into many languages, including Esperanto.
He later on solved a geometric problem involving the contrasting geometries of the circle and the square, creating the “superellipse” which has had many applications in road systems, furniture, and other designs. The three dimensional version of this shape, the “superegg” was a very popular design element and has been utilized in many of his designs, including some silver pieces for Georg Jensen.
In 1940, Piet Hein had begun his works towards global harmony, becoming President of the Liberal Cultural Action group, followed by his 1948 leadership of the Danish branch of the World Movement for World Federal Government, which idealistically focused on worldwide scientific solutions to general human problems and conflicts. He later was involved in the movement to promote the proposed universal language, Esperanto, and also served on numerous other committees, such as Open Door International, Humanistic Union, The League for Tolerance, and International Pen. He has also had the pleasure of being friends with such peoples as Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin. He has won serveral awards, including the ID prize in 1971, the Alexander Graham Bell silver bell in 1968, the degree of Doctor of Human Letters at Yale University in 1972, and was Nobel Lecturer in 1983.
Click HERE to read more about the ID Prize
Click HERE to see the bridge where Piet Hein's ashes were strewn, and read a short biography