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Max Planck

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Max Planck

Planck in 1933


Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck April 23, 1858 Kiel, Duchy of Holstein


October 4, 1947 (aged 89) Gttingen, Lower Saxony,Germany






University of Kiel University of Berlin University of Gttingen Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft

Alma mater

Ludwig Maximilian University of

Munich Doctoral advisor

Alexander von Brill

Doctoral students

Gustav Ludwig Hertz Erich Kretschmann Walther Meissner Walter Schottky Max von Laue Max Abraham Moritz Schlick Walther Bothe Julius Edgar Lilienfeld

Other notable students

Lise Meitner

Known for

Planck constant Planck postulate Planck's law of black body radiation

Notable awards

Nobel Prize in Physics (1918) Goethe Prize (1945)


Marie Merck (18871909) Marga von Hsslin (19111947)


Notes His son Erwin Planck was executed in 1945 by the Gestapo for his part in the assassination attempt of Adolph Hitler July 20 plot.

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, FRS[1] (April 23, 1858 October 4, 1947) was a German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.[2] Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einsteins theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics.
Contents [hide]

1 Early life and career o o o o o o o o o 1.1 Academic career 1.2 Family 1.3 Professor at Berlin University 1.4 Black-body radiation 1.5 Einstein and the theory of relativity 1.6 World War I 1.7 Post War and Weimar Republic 1.8 Quantum mechanics 1.9 Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War

2 Religious views 3 Honors and awards 4 Publications 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

Early life and career[edit]

Planck came from a traditional, intellectual family. His paternal great-grandfather and grandfather were both theology professors in Gttingen; his father was a law professor in Kiel and Munich.

Max Planck's signature at ten years of age.

Planck was born in Kiel, Holstein, to Johann Julius Wilhelm Planck and his second wife, Emma Patzig. He was baptised with the name of Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck; of his given names, Marx (a now obsolete variant of Markus or maybe simply an error for Max, which is actually short for Maximilian) was indicated as theprimary name.[3] However, by the age of ten he signed with the name Max and used this for the rest of his life.[4] He was the 6th child in the family, though two of his siblings were from his father's first marriage. Among his earliest memories was the marching of Prussian andAustrian troops into Kiel during the Second Schleswig War in 1864. In 1867 the family moved to Munich, and Planck enrolled in the Maximilians gymnasium school, where he came under the tutelage of Hermann Mller, a mathematician who took an interest in the youth, and taught him astronomy and mechanics as well as mathematics. It was from Mller that Planck first

learned the principle of conservation of energy. Planck graduated early, at age 17.[5] This is how Planck first came in contact with the field of physics. Planck was gifted when it came to music. He took singing lessons and played piano, organ and cello, and composed songs and operas. However, instead of music he chose to study physics.

Planck as a young man, 1878

The Munich physics professor Philipp von Jolly advised Planck against going into physics, saying, "in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes."[6] Planck replied that he did not wish to discover new things, but only to understand the known fundamentals of the field, and so began his studies in 1874 at the University of Munich. Under Jolly's supervision, Planck performed the only experiments of his scientific career, studying the diffusion of hydrogen through heated platinum, but transferred to theoretical physics.[when?] In 1877 he went to Berlin for a year of study with physicists Hermann von Helmholtz and Gustav Kirchhoff and mathematician Karl Weierstrass. He wrote that Helmholtz was never quite prepared, spoke slowly, miscalculated endlessly, and bored his listeners, while Kirchhoff spoke in carefully prepared lectures which were dry and monotonous. He soon became close friends with Helmholtz. While there he undertook a program of mostly self-study of Clausius's writings, which led him to choose heat theory as his field. In October 1878 Planck passed his qualifying exams and in February 1879 defended his dissertation, ber den zweiten Hauptsatz der mechanischen Wrmetheorie (On the second law of thermodynamics). He briefly taught mathematics and physics at his former school in Munich. In June 1880, he presented his habilitation thesis, Gleichgewichtszustnde isotroper Krper in verschiedenen Temperaturen (Equilibrium states of isotropic bodies at different temperatures).

Academic career[edit]
With the completion of his habilitation thesis, Planck became an unpaid private lecturer in Munich, waiting until he was offered an academic position. Although he was initially ignored by the academic community, he furthered his work on the field of heat theory and discovered one after another the same thermodynamical formalism as Gibbs without realizing it. Clausius's ideas on entropy occupied a central role in his work. In April 1885 the University of Kiel appointed Planck as associate professor of theoretical physics. Further work on entropy and its treatment, esp