In Memoriam, Horst Kant (1946–2023)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed colleague Horst Kant.

Horst Kant studied physics at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin from 1964 to 1969 and then completed three years of research studies at the Department of Philosophy of Science and Organization, where he received his doctorate in 1973 with a thesis on the history of science. He continued to work there as a researcher, and later for the Vice-Rector for Science and Technology at the Humboldt University (Prof. Dr. Joachim Auth). In 1978, he moved to the Institute for Theory, History and Organization of Science at the Academy of Sciences of the GDR in the group of Hubert Laitko. He conducted research there until 1991 when all academy institutes were closed down in the context of German reunification. In addition to his work at the academy, he was also involved in the GDR’s Physical Society, where, together with Dieter Hoffmann, he founded the History of Physics Working Group in 1978 and co-headed it until 1990.

After a position in the focus area History of Science and Philosophy of Science (Director: Lorenz Krüger) of the MPG-funded Förderungsgesellschaft Wissenschaftliche Neuvorhaben mbH, he was able to continue his research in the history of science at the newly founded MPIWG from the end of 1995. Here, his research focused on the history of science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in particular the history of physics from a social, institutional and biographical perspective. Other key areas of research were the early history of radioactivity and nuclear energy (Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, Werner Heisenberg during the Second World War), history of physics in the Soviet Union, and in Berlin, and the history of physics in the institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Max Planck Society. Retiring in 2011, Horst Kant continued his research in the history of science as a guest researcher at the MPIWG, contributing significantly to its ongoing research endeavors.

Horst Kant was a member of the German Physical Society (DPG), a member of the Gesellschaft für die Geschichte der Wissenschaften, der Medizin und der Technik (GWMT), and the Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsforschung Berlin (GeWiF). In 2014 he became a member of the Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften e. V., and from 2016 served as Deputy Secretary of the Klasse Naturwissenschaften und Technikwissenschaften.

Horst Kant was a kind, considerate, and cooperative colleague who will be greatly missed by all of those who had the pleasure of working with him. Our condolences are extended to his family.