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Max Planck

Max Planck
Photo: Deutsches Museum, Munich

Max Planck originates from an old scholarly family, and his father, Johann William von Planck, was a full professor for civil law. Max was born in Kiel and grew up starting in Munich from 1867. The Maximiliansgymnasium (high school) and the university in Munich were his next steps. He attained a doctorate at 21 and already received his habilitation at 22. In 1885, he became a professor in Kiel. Four years later, he followed Kirchhoff at the Friedrich William University in Berlin, and from 1892 on he was an official professor for theoretical physics there.

He had a great musical gift, played piano, was second choir master, composer and soloist. In Berlin, he also played music with Albert Einstein (violin).

In spring, 1899, Planck discovered the natural constant h (Planck's Quantum of Action) and at the end of 1900 he postulated the first quantum formula for the energy levels of the linear oscillator. Planck's radiation formula was also established in the year 1900.

On December 14, 1900, Planck held a lecture in the physical society with the topic: "For the Theory of the Law of the Energy Distribution in the Normal Spectrum". This corresponds to the birthday of the quantum theory. In 1918, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to him in Stockholm.

Max Planck was never a friend of the Nazi regime, however he still remained in Germany during the war. His son, Erwin, was member of a resistance group and was executed in 1944. In 1945, Planck fled to Göttingen. In July, 1946, he was in London at the celebration of Newton's 300th birthday. On March 28,1947, he held his last lecture. In the same year, he died in Göttingen.

Last Update: 2010-12-15