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Heinz Oberhummer
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Heinz Oberhummer

(1941-05-19)19 May 1941
Bischofshofen, Austria
Died 24 November 2015(2015-11-24) (aged 74)
Nationality Austrian
Alma mater
  • University of Graz
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Children 2
Scientific career
  • Vienna University of Technology

Heinz Oberhummer was an Austrian physicist and skeptic.


Heinz Oberhummer was born in Bischofshofen and grew up in Obertauern, Austria. He studied physics at the University of Graz and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He lived in the village of Oberwölbling in the Dunkelsteinerwald, Lower Austria. Heinz Oberhummer was married and had two children.

Research fields

Heinz Oberhummer was professor emeritus of Theoretical Physics at the Atominstitut of the Vienna University of Technology. His main research area was nucleosynthesis. He was also involved in questions concerning the fine-tuning of the Universe. Oberhummer, Csótó und Schlattl were able to derive quantifiable results concerning the fine-tuning of the Universe by investigating the creation of carbon and oxygen in the triple-alpha process in red giants.

He was the initiator of "Nuclei in the Cosmos", the most important international conference series in the field of nuclear astrophysics taking place for the tenth time in the year 2008 at Michigan State University in the United States.

He was especially engaged in the popularisation of scientific contents, including the new media. He developed Web-based learning and information systems and co-ordinated educational projects funded by the European Commission, such as Cinema and Science. He was also engaged in the creation and presentation of popular science with the Science Busters [de] in the Rabenhof Theater in Vienna along with Werner Gruber and Martin Puntigam and as a weekly radio column and podcast in the Austrian youth radio station FM4.

He was member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Giordano Bruno Foundation and the Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften (GWUP), the German-speaking branch of the worldwide skeptical movement. Furthermore, he was president of the "Gesellschaft für Kritisches Denken" (the Austrian branch of the GWUP), and of the Austrian "Zentralrat für Konfessionsfreie" (National Council of Non-confessionals. Heinz Oberhummer was president of the secularist initiative "Religion ist Privatsache" (Religion is a private matter). He died in Vienna on 23 November 2015.

Oberhummer Award

Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication
Location Vienna, Austria
Reward 20.000 euros
First awarded 24 November 2016;
7 years ago
Television coverage
Network ORF 1
Runtime 1 hour, 37 minutes

After Oberhummer's death, the Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication was established in his honor. The award is presented by the Science Busters [de], the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research until 2019), the Technical University of Vienna, the University of Graz, the City of Vienna, FM4 and the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.

Oberhummer Award winners receive a glass of alpaca droppings and 20.000 euros. The annual ceremony takes place in the Stadtsaal [de] in Vienna and is broadcast on national television.


Year Recipient Description
2016 James Randi Canadian-American debunker of paranormal claims
2017 Giulia Enders German physician and writer
2018 Adam Savage American myth buster
2019 No Such Thing as a Fish
James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber
English scientific podcast
2020 Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim German chemist and YouTuber
2021 Coronavirus-Update [de]
Korinna Hennig [de], Katharina Mahrenholtz, Beke Schulmann, Christian Drosten and Sandra Ciesek
German podcast on the COVID-19 pandemic

Selected publications

  • Kann das alles Zufall sein – Geheimnisvolles Universum?, Ecowin-Verlag, Salzburg, 2008, ISBN: 978-3902404541
  • H. Oberhummer: Urknall und Sternenstaub – Der Kosmos aus naturwissenschaftlicher Sicht In Die Idee vom Anfang, Ritter Verlag, Klagenfurt, Wién, 2008, ISBN: 978-3898464949
  • H. Oberhummer: Maßarbeit oder Zufall – sind wir nicht anderes als Sternenstaub? In Der etwas andere Blick auf die Schöpfung, Haag + Herrchen: Frankfurt, 2007, ISBN: 978-3898464949
  • H. Oberhummer (Editor): Nuclei in the Cosmos, Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, 1991, ISBN: 0387541985
  • H. Oberhummer, A. Patkos, T. Rauscher: Origin of the Chemical Elements. In: Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry, Vol. 2, Kap. 1, Kluwer, 2003, ISBN: 1402013051
  • H. Oberhummer, A. Csótó, H. Schlattl: Stellar production rates of carbon and its abundance in the Universe, Science 289, 2000, 88
  • H. Oberhummer: Kerne und Sterne: Einführung in die Nukleare Astrophysik. In German. Barth, Leipzig, Berlin, Heidelberg 1993, ISBN: 3335003195
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