Abbe, Ernst (ĕrnst äˈbə) [key], 1840–1905, German physicist. He was appointed professor at the Univ. of Jena in 1870 and director of its astronomical and meteorological observatories in 1878. From 1866 he was associated with the Carl-Zeiss optical works at Jena, of which he became sole owner in 1888. He subsequently reorganized the firm on a cooperative basis. He made his plant a laboratory for the development of model working conditions, created a noncontributory pension fund and a discharge compensation fund, and introduced other advanced ideas that have been influential in shaping thought on the conditions of labor. He invented the Abbe refractometer for determining the refractive index of substances and improved photographic and microscopic lenses.
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