Max Planck

The Prussian / German scientist Max Planck is considered one of the most important physicist of the 20th century, and also the creator of quantum mechanics. Max Planck won the Physics Nobel Prize on 1918 with his Quantum Theory. Thanks to Planck, we can measure the quantity of energy contained in a packet called quantum [1] . With this measures the humanity was able of developing such things like lasers, transistors, electron microscopes and magnetic resonance imaging.
The Max Planck Society, one of the worlds most important group of research institutes in different fields of physics, was named after him, because of his great contribution to the humanity. Before WWII it was named Kaiser Wilhelm Society. Max Planck was also a science philosopher, he made the "Planck Principle", which says that "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." [2] .

Insight and Influences

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was born in Kiel, Germany , on April 23, 1858. He was born in an intellectual family for his time. His father was a law professor, his grandparents were theology professors and his uncle was a judge. These were considered excellent jobs. He had his childhood at the same time the Danish-Prussian war
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was happening, wich means that the country was going through a tough situation. Then his family moved to Munich, were he studied at the famous Maximilian Gymnasium. There he started being interested in math, physics, and music. He was under the tutelage of Hermann Muller. He could play the piano, organ and cello, but he choose to keep studying physics instead of music. He graduated at age of 17.
On 1874, after he graduated, he joined the Munich University to study physics, even though his supervisor advised him that it was not a good idea, because there was nothing left to discover. On 1877 he was transferred to the Berlin University, where people started to see his intellectual skills. On 1879 he returned to Munich, were he finished college and got his degree in thermodynamics at the age of 21.
In 1880 he completed his qualifying dissertation, becoming a teacher. In 1885, he was appointed associate professor at the University of Kiel, then in 1889, he received an appointment to the University of Berlin, and then got promoted to full professor in 1892. He remained in Berlin for the rest of his active life.
Planck's life was sad after he became 50 years old. His wife died in 1909. They have been married for 22 years. His oldest son Karl was a German soldier in WWI and was killed in the battlefield in 1916. His daughter Margarete died in 1917, and the other daughter, Emma died in 1919. On WWII, his house in Berlin was hit by bombs and destroyed. Erwin, his youngest son, was involved in a plan to kill Hitler, so the Gestapo ( Nazi secret police) killed him on 1945. After the war, Planck, his second wife and his son by her, moved to Göttingen where he died on October 4, 1947. [3] .

Major Contributions

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His interest and work in thermodynamics led Max Planck to the Quantum Theory. When he was trying to explain the colors of hot glowing matter, he said that the energy involved is radiated in small packets instead of continuous unbroken waves. He called this packets quanta. He was also able to determine the quantity of energy contained in a quantum (packet), with a constant that is now known as Planck's Constant (h). It can also be called Planck Constant. The constant is 6.626 068 96 x 10-34 J s . It has dimensions of energy multiplied by time. This constant is used for example in the Planck Postulate, E=hv (h stands for Planck's constant, E for the energy, and V for the frequency of radiation). It is used to measure the electromagnetism quantity of energy emitted by a quantified object.
Thanks to his discoveries, further research was made on quantum mechanics, allowing the humanity to develop and build transistors. Transistors are used to build parts of electronics and computers, which means that without Max Planck, maybe we wouldn't have computers and the all the electronic devices that make our life easier.
Later, scientists and physicists used Planck's Quantum Theory to develop their own theories.
The Max Planck Society ( former Kaiser Wilhelm Society), is a group of institutes that studies different fields of physics, is one of the most respected and important research places in the world. It wasn't founded by Planck, but he was one of the former presidents after WWII and helped to rebuild and reorganize the institute. [4] [7] .

Affect and Effect

Max Planck worked and talked to a lot of other scientists, most of them German. His first contact with one for them was probably his teacher and mentor in the Maximilian Gymnasium, Hermann Muller, who stimulated Planck's interest in mathematics and physics.
Albert Einstein used Planck's theories and the constant to develop his own theories and work. Einstein was also awarded with the Max Planck Medal, which was handed to him by Planck himself.
Niels Bohr also used Planck's research to develop a more accurate model of the atom.


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Max Planck was the father of quantum physics, he also was a spokesman of German science and defender of his people. He was one of the few scientist who remained in Germany during the Nazi government.
His discoveries and theories led humanity to several developments in physics. Computers and electronics did not exist at his time, but thanks to his work, later scientists were able to develop computers and electronics using his quantum theory to build transistors.
The Max Planck Institute is today one of the most advanced and important research centers of the world.