HeinPiet

Biography

Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor, artist, designer, philosopher and poet Piet Hein was born in Copenhagen in 1905. Despite his brilliance,or because of it, he never completed a degree. He first enrolled in a philosophy course at the Metropolitan School of Copenhagen, but left soon after to study art at a private academy and eventually the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.  He then returned to Copenhagen to study philosophy and theoretical physics at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Copenhagen. Hein's diverse educational background facilitated his life's work, which straddled the line between art and science

During World War II, Hein joined the Danish resistance to the German occupation and began to publish a series of poems in the daily newspaper, Politiken, under the pseudonym Kumbel Kumbell. These poems were often coded messages to the Danish people not to succumb to evil, and generally contained philosophical advice on the art of living. He would go to publish thousands over his lifetime. In the postwar era, Hein invented the superellipse, an advanced geometrical figure that combined the ellipse and rectangle. Hein first used the superellipse to solve a traffic problem in Stockholm's Sergel's Square, in the form of an elliptical roundabout. The new oval-like shape was quickly adopted by postwar Scandinavian architects, and it has since then been used in buildings and urban planning worldwide

Throughout his life, Hein worked with and befriended several intellectual luminaries, including American mathematician Norbert Wiener, Danish physicist Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin. Hein received many awards and accolades, including the Aarestrup Medal (1969), the Danish ID Prize (1971) and Chapter of the Royal Danish Order of Chivalry (1989), among many others. In 1972, Yale University awarded Hein an honorary doctorate degree. He passed away in 1996

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