Biographies

Max Planck and quantum theory

Max Planck and quantum theory

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was born on April 23, 1858, in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. He was awarded the Nobel and considered the creator of quantum theory.

Albert Einstein said about Max Planck: "He was a man who was given to give the world a great creative idea." From that creative idea was born modern physics.

Planck studied at the universities of Munich and Berlin. He was appointed professor of physics at the University of Kiel in 1885, and from 1889 to 1928 he held the same position at the University of Berlin.

In 1900 Planck formulated that energy radiates into separate small units that we call how many. That's where the name comes from Quantum theory.

Advancing in the development of this theory, he discovered a constant of a universal nature that is known as Planck's constant. Planck's law states that the energy of each quantum is equal to the frequency of the radiation multiplied by the universal constant. His findings, however, did not invalidate the theory that radiation was propagated by waves. Physicists today believe that electromagnetic radiation combines the properties of waves and particles.

Planck's discoveries, which were later verified by other scientists, were the birth of an entirely new field of physics, known as quantum mechanics and provided the foundation for research in fields such as atomic energy. He recognized in 1905 the importance of the ideas on the quantification of electromagnetic radiation exposed by Albert Einstein, with whom he collaborated throughout his career.

Planck himself never advanced a meaningful interpretation of his quantums. In 1905 Einstein, based on Planck's work, published his theory about the phenomenon known as photoelectric effect. Given Planck's calculations, Einstein showed that charged particles absorbed and emitted energies in how many finites that were proportional to the frequency of light or radiation. In 1930, quantum principles would form the foundations of the new physics.

Planck received many awards, especially the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1918. In 1930 Planck was elected president of the Kaiser Guillermo Society for the Progress of Science, the main association of German scientists, which was later called the Max Planck Society. His open criticisms of the Nazi regime that had come to power in Germany in 1933 forced him to leave the Society, of which he became its president at the end of World War II. Max Planck's opposition to the Nazi regime confronted him with Hitler. On several occasions he interceded for his Jewish colleagues before the Nazi regime.

Max Planck suffered many personal tragedies after the age of 50. In 1909, his first wife died after 22 years of marriage, leaving two sons and two twin daughters. His eldest son died on the front line in World War I in 1916; His two daughters died from childbirth. During the Second World War, his house in Berlin was completely destroyed by the bombs in 1944 and his youngest son, Erwin, was implicated in the attempt against Hitler's life that took place on July 20, 1944 and he died horribly. in the hands of the Gestapo in 1945.

All this cluster of adversities, assured his disciple Max von Laue, endured them without a complaint. At the end of the war, Planck, his second wife and her son, moved to Göttingen where he died at age 90, on October 4, 1947.

Max Planck made brilliant discoveries in physics that revolutionized the way of thinking about atomic and subatomic processes. His theoretical work was widely respected by his scientific colleagues. Among his most important works are Introduction to theoretical physics (5 volumes, 1932-1933) and Philosophy of physics (1936).

◄ PreviousNext ►
Tsiolkovsky and astronauticsAnnie Jump Cannon and the spectral classes of stars