Max Planck

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS[1] (German: [ˈplaŋk];[2] English: /ˈplæŋk/;[3] 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.[4]

Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame as a physicist rests primarily on his role as the originator of quantum theory,[5] which revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes. In 1948, the German scientific institution the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (of which Planck was twice president) was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPS). The MPS now includes 83 institutions representing a wide range of scientific directions.

Max Planck
Max Planck 1933
Planck in 1933
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

23 April 1858
Died4 October 1947 (aged 89)
Alma materLudwig Maximilian University of Munich
Known forPlanck constant
Planck postulate
Planck's law of black body radiation
Third law of thermodynamics
Fokker–Planck equation
Spouse(s)Marie Merck (1887–1909)
Marga von Hösslin (1911–1947)
Scientific career
ThesisOn the Second Principles of Mechanical Heat Theory (1879)
Doctoral advisorAlexander von Brill
Gustav Kirchhoff
Hermann von Helmholtz
Doctoral students
Other notable studentsWolfgang Köhler
Lise Meitner
Max Planck signature

Life and career

Planck came from a traditional, intellectual family. His paternal great-grandfather and grandfather were both theology professors in Göttingen; his father was a law professor at the University of Kiel[6] and Munich. One of his uncles was also a judge.[7]

Max Planck signature 10 years old
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 baptized 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 the "appellation name".[8] However, by the age of ten he signed with the name Max and used this for the rest of his life.[9]

He was the 6th child in the family, though two of his siblings were from his father's first marriage. War was common during Planck's early years and among his earliest memories was the marching of Prussian and Austrian troops into Kiel during the Second Schleswig War in 1864.[7] In 1867 the family moved to Munich, and Planck enrolled in the Maximilians gymnasium school, where he came under the tutelage of Hermann Müller, a mathematician who took an interest in the youth, and taught him astronomy and mechanics as well as mathematics. It was from Müller that Planck first learned the principle of conservation of energy. Planck graduated early, at age 17.[10] 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.

Max Planck 1878
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."[11] 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.

In 1877 he went to the Friedrich Wilhelms University in 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 thermodynamics as his field.

In October 1878 Planck passed his qualifying exams and in February 1879 defended his dissertation, Über den zweiten Hauptsatz der mechanischen Wärmetheorie (On the second law of thermodynamics). He briefly taught mathematics and physics at his former school in Munich.

By the year 1880, Planck obtained two highest academic degrees offered in Europe. The first was a doctorate degree after he completed his paper detailing his research and theory of thermodynamics.[7] He then presented his thesis called Gleichgewichtszustände isotroper Körper in verschiedenen Temperaturen (Equilibrium states of isotropic bodies at different temperatures), which earned him a habilitation.

Academic career

With the completion of his habilitation thesis, Planck became an unpaid Privatdozent (German academic rank comparable to lecturer/assistant professor) 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, especially as applied in physical chemistry, followed. He published his Treatise on Thermodynamics in 1897.[12] He proposed a thermodynamic basis for Svante Arrhenius's theory of electrolytic dissociation.

In 1889 he was named the successor to Kirchhoff's position at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin[13] – presumably thanks to Helmholtz's intercession – and by 1892 became a full professor. In 1907 Planck was offered Boltzmann's position in Vienna, but turned it down to stay in Berlin. During 1909, as a University of Berlin professor, he was invited to become the Ernest Kempton Adams Lecturer in Theoretical Physics at Columbia University in New York City. A series of his lectures were translated and co-published by Columbia University professor A. P. Wills.[14] He retired from Berlin on 10 January 1926,[15] and was succeeded by Erwin Schrödinger.[16]


In March 1887 Planck married Marie Merck (1861–1909), sister of a school fellow, and moved with her into a sublet apartment in Kiel. They had four children: Karl (1888–1916), the twins Emma (1889–1919) and Grete (1889–1917), and Erwin (1893–1945).

After the apartment in Berlin, the Planck family lived in a villa in Berlin-Grunewald, Wangenheimstrasse 21. Several other professors from University of Berlin lived nearby, among them theologian Adolf von Harnack, who became a close friend of Planck. Soon the Planck home became a social and cultural center. Numerous well-known scientists, such as Albert Einstein, Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner were frequent visitors. The tradition of jointly performing music had already been established in the home of Helmholtz.

After several happy years, in July 1909 Marie Planck died, possibly from tuberculosis. In March 1911 Planck married his second wife, Marga von Hoesslin (1882–1948); in December his fifth child Hermann was born.

During the First World War Planck's second son Erwin was taken prisoner by the French in 1914, while his oldest son Karl was killed in action at Verdun. Grete died in 1917 while giving birth to her first child. Her sister died the same way two years later, after having married Grete's widower. Both granddaughters survived and were named after their mothers. Planck endured these losses stoically.

In January 1945, Erwin, to whom he had been particularly close, was sentenced to death by the Nazi Volksgerichtshof because of his participation in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. Erwin was executed on 23 January 1945.[17]

Professor at Berlin University

As a professor at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin, Planck joined the local Physical Society. He later wrote about this time: "In those days I was essentially the only theoretical physicist there, whence things were not so easy for me, because I started mentioning entropy, but this was not quite fashionable, since it was regarded as a mathematical spook".[18] Thanks to his initiative, the various local Physical Societies of Germany merged in 1898 to form the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, DPG); from 1905 to 1909 Planck was the president.

Max Planck Wirkungsquantums 20050815
Plaque at the Humboldt University of Berlin: "Max Planck, discoverer of the elementary quantum of action h, taught in this building from 1889 to 1928."

Planck started a six-semester course of lectures on theoretical physics, "dry, somewhat impersonal" according to Lise Meitner, "using no notes, never making mistakes, never faltering; the best lecturer I ever heard" according to an English participant, James R. Partington, who continues: "There were always many standing around the room. As the lecture-room was well heated and rather close, some of the listeners would from time to time drop to the floor, but this did not disturb the lecture". Planck did not establish an actual "school"; the number of his graduate students was only about 20, among them:

1897 Max Abraham (1875–1922)
1903 Max von Laue (1879–1960)
1904 Moritz Schlick (1882–1936)
1906 Walther Meissner (1882–1974)
1907 Fritz Reiche (1883–1960)
1912 Walter Schottky (1886–1976)
1914 Walther Bothe (1891–1957)[19]

Black-body radiation

In 1894 Planck turned his attention to the problem of black-body radiation. He had been commissioned by electric companies to create maximum light from lightbulbs with minimum energy. The problem had been stated by Kirchhoff in 1859: "how does the intensity of the electromagnetic radiation emitted by a black body (a perfect absorber, also known as a cavity radiator) depend on the frequency of the radiation (i.e., the color of the light) and the temperature of the body?". The question had been explored experimentally, but no theoretical treatment agreed with experimental values. Wilhelm Wien proposed Wien's law, which correctly predicted the behaviour at high frequencies, but failed at low frequencies. The Rayleigh–Jeans law, another approach to the problem, agreed with experimental results at low frequencies, but created what was later known as the "ultraviolet catastrophe" at high frequencies. However, contrary to many textbooks this was not a motivation for Planck.[20]

Planck's first proposed solution to the problem in 1899 followed from what Planck called the "principle of elementary disorder", which allowed him to derive Wien's law from a number of assumptions about the entropy of an ideal oscillator, creating what was referred-to as the Wien–Planck law. Soon it was found that experimental evidence did not confirm the new law at all, to Planck's frustration. Planck revised his approach, deriving the first version of the famous Planck black-body radiation law, which described the experimentally observed black-body spectrum well. It was first proposed in a meeting of the DPG on 19 October 1900 and published in 1901. This first derivation did not include energy quantisation, and did not use statistical mechanics, to which he held an aversion. In November 1900, Planck revised this first approach, relying on Boltzmann's statistical interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics as a way of gaining a more fundamental understanding of the principles behind his radiation law. As Planck was deeply suspicious of the philosophical and physical implications of such an interpretation of Boltzmann's approach, his recourse to them was, as he later put it, "an act of despair ... I was ready to sacrifice any of my previous convictions about physics."[20]

The central assumption behind his new derivation, presented to the DPG on 14 December 1900, was the supposition, now known as the Planck postulate, that electromagnetic energy could be emitted only in quantized form, in other words, the energy could only be a multiple of an elementary unit:

where h is Planck's constant, also known as Planck's action quantum (introduced already in 1899), and ν is the frequency of the radiation. Note that the elementary units of energy discussed here are represented by and not simply by ν. Physicists now call these quanta photons, and a photon of frequency ν will have its own specific and unique energy. The total energy at that frequency is then equal to multiplied by the number of photons at that frequency.

Max Planck (Nobel 1918)
Planck in 1918, the year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum theory

At first Planck considered that quantisation was only "a purely formal assumption ... actually I did not think much about it..."; nowadays this assumption, incompatible with classical physics, is regarded as the birth of quantum physics and the greatest intellectual accomplishment of Planck's career (Ludwig Boltzmann had been discussing in a theoretical paper in 1877 the possibility that the energy states of a physical system could be discrete). The discovery of Planck's constant enabled him to define a new universal set of physical units (such as the Planck length and the Planck mass), all based on fundamental physical constants upon which much of quantum theory is based. In recognition of Planck's fundamental contribution to a new branch of physics, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1918 (he actually received the award in 1919).[21][22]

Subsequently, Planck tried to grasp the meaning of energy quanta, but to no avail. "My unavailing attempts to somehow reintegrate the action quantum into classical theory extended over several years and caused me much trouble." Even several years later, other physicists like Rayleigh, Jeans, and Lorentz set Planck's constant to zero in order to align with classical physics, but Planck knew well that this constant had a precise nonzero value. "I am unable to understand Jeans' stubbornness – he is an example of a theoretician as should never be existing, the same as Hegel was for philosophy. So much the worse for the facts if they don't fit."[23]

Max Born wrote about Planck: "He was, by nature, a conservative mind; he had nothing of the revolutionary and was thoroughly skeptical about speculations. Yet his belief in the compelling force of logical reasoning from facts was so strong that he did not flinch from announcing the most revolutionary idea which ever has shaken physics."[1]

Einstein and the theory of relativity

In 1905, the three epochal papers by Albert Einstein were published in the journal Annalen der Physik. Planck was among the few who immediately recognized the significance of the special theory of relativity. Thanks to his influence, this theory was soon widely accepted in Germany. Planck also contributed considerably to extend the special theory of relativity. For example, he recast the theory in terms of classical action.[24]

Einstein's hypothesis of light quanta (photons), based on Heinrich Hertz's 1887 discovery (and further investigation by Philipp Lenard) of the photoelectric effect, was initially rejected by Planck. He was unwilling to discard completely Maxwell's theory of electrodynamics. "The theory of light would be thrown back not by decades, but by centuries, into the age when Christiaan Huygens dared to fight against the mighty emission theory of Isaac Newton ..."

In 1910, Einstein pointed out the anomalous behavior of specific heat at low temperatures as another example of a phenomenon which defies explanation by classical physics. Planck and Nernst, seeking to clarify the increasing number of contradictions, organized the First Solvay Conference (Brussels 1911). At this meeting Einstein was able to convince Planck.

Meanwhile, Planck had been appointed dean of Berlin University, whereby it was possible for him to call Einstein to Berlin and establish a new professorship for him (1914). Soon the two scientists became close friends and met frequently to play music together.

First World War

At the onset of the First World War Planck endorsed the general excitement of the public, writing that, "Besides much that is horrible, there is also much that is unexpectedly great and beautiful: the smooth solution of the most difficult domestic political problems by the unification of all parties (and) ... the extolling of everything good and noble."[25][26]

Nonetheless, Planck refrained from the extremes of nationalism. In 1915, at a time when Italy was about to join the Allied Powers, he voted successfully for a scientific paper from Italy, which received a prize from the Prussian Academy of Sciences, where Planck was one of four permanent presidents.

Planck also signed the infamous "Manifesto of the 93 intellectuals", a pamphlet of polemic war propaganda (while Einstein retained a strictly pacifistic attitude which almost led to his imprisonment, being spared by his Swiss citizenship). But in 1915 Planck, after several meetings with Dutch physicist Lorentz, revoked parts of the Manifesto. Then in 1916 he signed a declaration against German annexationism.

Post-war and the Weimar Republic

In the turbulent post-war years, Planck, now the highest authority of German physics, issued the slogan "persevere and continue working" to his colleagues.

In October 1920 he and Fritz Haber established the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft (Emergency Organization of German Science), aimed at providing financial support for scientific research. A considerable portion of the money the organization would distribute was raised abroad.

Planck also held leading positions at Berlin University, the Prussian Academy of Sciences, the German Physical Society and the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (which in 1948 became the Max Planck Society). During this time economic conditions in Germany were such that he was hardly able to conduct research. In 1926 Planck became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[27]

During the interwar period, Planck became a member of the Deutsche Volks-Partei (German People's Party), the party of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Gustav Stresemann, which aspired to liberal aims for domestic policy and rather revisionistic aims for politics around the world.

Planck disagreed with the introduction of universal suffrage and later expressed the view that the Nazi dictatorship resulted from "the ascent of the rule of the crowds".[28]

Quantum mechanics

Nernst, Einstein, Planck, Millikan, Laue in 1931
From left to right: W. Nernst, A. Einstein, M. Planck, R.A. Millikan and von Laue at a dinner given by von Laue in Berlin on 11 November 1931

At the end of the 1920s Bohr, Heisenberg and Pauli had worked out the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, but it was rejected by Planck, and by Schrödinger, Laue, and Einstein as well. Planck expected that wave mechanics would soon render quantum theory—his own child—unnecessary. This was not to be the case, however. Further work only cemented quantum theory, even against his and Einstein's philosophical revulsions. Planck experienced the truth of his own earlier observation from his struggle with the older views in his younger years: "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."[29]

Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Planck was 74. He witnessed many Jewish friends and colleagues expelled from their positions and humiliated, and hundreds of scientists emigrated from Nazi Germany. Again he tried to "persevere and continue working" and asked scientists who were considering emigration to remain in Germany. Nevertheless, he did help his nephew, the economist Hermann Kranold to emigrate to London after his arrest.[30] He hoped the crisis would abate soon and the political situation would improve.

Otto Hahn asked Planck to gather well-known German professors in order to issue a public proclamation against the treatment of Jewish professors, but Planck replied, "If you are able to gather today 30 such gentlemen, then tomorrow 150 others will come and speak against it, because they are eager to take over the positions of the others."[31] Under Planck's leadership, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (KWG) avoided open conflict with the Nazi regime, except concerning Fritz Haber. Planck tried to discuss the issue with Adolf Hitler but was unsuccessful. In the following year, 1934, Haber died in exile.

One year later, Planck, having been the president of the KWG since 1930, organized in a somewhat provocative style an official commemorative meeting for Haber. He also succeeded in secretly enabling a number of Jewish scientists to continue working in institutes of the KWG for several years. In 1936, his term as president of the KWG ended, and the Nazi government pressured him to refrain from seeking another term.

As the political climate in Germany gradually became more hostile, Johannes Stark, prominent exponent of Deutsche Physik ("German Physics", also called "Aryan Physics") attacked Planck, Sommerfeld and Heisenberg for continuing to teach the theories of Einstein, calling them "white Jews". The "Hauptamt Wissenschaft" (Nazi government office for science) started an investigation of Planck's ancestry, claiming that he was "1/16 Jewish", but Planck himself denied it.[32]

Stadtfriedhof Göttingen Max Planck Familie
Max Planck's grave in Göttingen

In 1938, Planck celebrated his 80th birthday. The DPG held a celebration, during which the Max-Planck medal (founded as the highest medal by the DPG in 1928) was awarded to French physicist Louis de Broglie. At the end of 1938, the Prussian Academy lost its remaining independence and was taken over by Nazis (Gleichschaltung). Planck protested by resigning his presidency. He continued to travel frequently, giving numerous public talks, such as his talk on Religion and Science, and five years later he was sufficiently fit to climb 3,000-metre peaks in the Alps.

During the Second World War the increasing number of Allied bombing missions against Berlin forced Planck and his wife to temporarily leave the city and live in the countryside. In 1942 he wrote: "In me an ardent desire has grown to persevere this crisis and live long enough to be able to witness the turning point, the beginning of a new rise." In February 1944 his home in Berlin was completely destroyed by an air raid, annihilating all his scientific records and correspondence. His rural retreat was threatened by the rapid advance of the Allied armies from both sides.

In 1944, Planck's son Erwin was arrested by the Gestapo following the attempted assassination of Hitler in the 20 July plot. He was tried and sentenced to death by the People’s Court in October 1944. Erwin was hanged at Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison in January 1945. The death of his son destroyed much of Planck's will to live.[33] After the end of the war Planck, his second wife, and his son by her were brought to a relative in Göttingen, where Planck died on October 4th, 1947. His grave is situated in the old Stadtfriedhof (City Cemetery) in Göttingen.[34]

Religious views

Planck was a member of the Lutheran Church in Germany.[35] However, Planck was very tolerant towards alternative views and religions.[36] In a lecture in 1937 entitled "Religion und Naturwissenschaft" (Religion and Natural Science) he suggested the importance of these symbols and rituals related directly with a believer's ability to worship God, but that one must be mindful that the symbols provide an imperfect illustration of divinity. He criticized atheism for being focused on the derision of such symbols, while at the same time warned of the over-estimation of the importance of such symbols by believers.[37]

He was favorable to all religions, but he himself chose Christianity. He did, however, regret the Church's demands for unquestioning belief, which served to repel questioners. For example, he believed "the faith in miracles must yield, step by step, before the steady and firm advance of the facts of science, and its total defeat is undoubtedly a matter of time." [38]

In his 1937 lecture "Religion and Naturwissenschaft," Planck expressed the view that God is everywhere present, and held that "the holiness of the unintelligible Godhead is conveyed by the holiness of symbols." Atheists, he thought, attach too much importance to what are merely symbols. Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). Both science and religion wage a "tireless battle against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition" with the goal "toward God!"[38]

Max Planck said in 1944, "As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent spirit (orig. geist). This spirit is the matrix of all matter."[39]

Planck regarded the scientist as a man of imagination and Christian faith. He said: "Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view".[40]

On the other hand, Planck wrote, "...'to believe' means 'to recognize as a truth,' and the knowledge of nature, continually advancing on incontestably safe tracks, has made it utterly impossible for a person possessing some training in natural science to recognize as founded on truth the many reports of extraordinary occurrences contradicting the laws of nature, of miracles which are still commonly regarded as essential supports and confirmations of religious doctrines, and which formerly used to be accepted as facts pure and simple, without doubt or criticism. The belief in miracles must retreat step by step before relentlessly and reliably progressing science and we cannot doubt that sooner or later it must vanish completely."[41]

Later in life, Planck's views on God were that of a deist.[42] For example, six months before his death a rumour started that Planck had converted to Catholicism, but when questioned what had brought him to make this step, he declared that, although he had always been deeply religious, he did not believe "in a personal God, let alone a Christian God."[43]


See also


  1. ^ a b Born, M. (1948). "Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck. 1858–1947". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 6 (17): 161–188. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0024.
  2. ^ "Planck". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ "Planck's constant". Cambridge Dictionary.
  4. ^ The Nobel Prize in Physics 1918. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  5. ^ Fraenkel, Abraham (2016). Recollections of a Jewish Mathematician in Germany. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser. p. 96. ISBN 9783319308456.
  6. ^ Dilip, James (2017). A Gestalt Aether Theory on the Nature of Light and Related Phenomena: A New Physics. Educreation Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 9781545703182.
  7. ^ a b c Weir, Jane (2009). Max Planck: Revolutionary Physicist. Capstone. ISBN 9780756540739.
  8. ^ Christoph Seidler, Gestatten, Marx Planck Archived 29 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Spiegel Online, 24 April 2008
  9. ^ Press release of the Max Planck Society about Max Planck's name.
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Max Planck
  11. ^ Lightman, Alan P. (2005). The discoveries: great breakthroughs in twentieth-century science, including the original papers. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada. p. 8. ISBN 0-676-97789-8.
  12. ^ Planck, Max (1897). Vorlesungen über Thermodynamik. Leipzig: Verlag Von Veit & Company. Retrieved 27 June 2012. English translation: Planck, Max (1903). Treatise on Thermodynamics. London: Longmans, Green, and Company. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Max Planck - Biographical". Nobel Prize Organisation. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  14. ^ Jacques Hadamard (1915). Four lectures on mathematics: delivered at Columbia University in 1911. Columbia University Press. pp. 7–. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  15. ^ "Max Planck — Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin". Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Erwin Schrödinger — Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin". Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  17. ^ Jürgen Heideking; Christof Mauch (5 October 1998). American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler: A Documentary History. Westview Press. pp. 361–. ISBN 978-0-8133-3636-7. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  18. ^ Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker; Elektrotechnischer Verein (Berlin, Germany) (1948). "ETZ: Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift: Ausg. A." ETZ: Elektrotechnische Zeitschrift (in German). VDE-Verlag. 69 (A)., Snipped extract
  19. ^ "Max Planck - The Mathematics Genealogy Project". Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  20. ^ a b For a solid approach to the complexity of Planck's intellectual motivations for the quantum, for his reluctant acceptance of its implications, see Helge Kragh, Max Planck: the reluctant revolutionary, Physics World. December 2000.
  21. ^ Kragh, Helge (1 December 2000), Max Planck: the reluctant revolutionary,
  22. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1918". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  23. ^ Heilbron, 2000, page 8
  24. ^ Einstein and the Quantum, A.Douglas Stone, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, chapter 9, Tripping the light heuristic, 2013.
  25. ^ Heilbron, 2000, page 72
  26. ^ Evans, James; Thorndike, Alan S. (2007). Quantum mechanics at the crossroads: new perspectives from history, philosophy and physics. Springer. p. 31. ISBN 3-540-32663-4. Extract of page 31
  27. ^ "Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (1858–1947)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  28. ^ Scully, Robert J.; Scully, Marlan O. (2007). The demon and the quantum: from the pythagorean mystics to Maxwell's demon and quantum mystery. Wiley-VCH. p. 90. ISBN 3-527-40688-3., Chapter 7, p 90
  29. ^ Quoted in Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970 ed.): p. 150.
  30. ^ "Johanna Kranold Stein". Ithaca Journal. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  31. ^ In a slightly different translation, Hahn remembers Planck saying: "If you bring together 30 such men today, then tomorrow 150 will come to denounce them because they want to take their places." This translated quote is found in: Heilbron, 2000, p. 150. Heilbron, at the end of the paragraph, on p. 151, cites the following references to Hahn’s writings: Otto Hahn Einige persönliche Erinnerungen an Max Planck MPG, Mitteilungen (1957) p. 244, and Otto Hahn My Life (Herder and Herder, 1970) p. 140.
  32. ^ Heilbron, 2000, page 191
  33. ^ "Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck". Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  34. ^ Max Planck's Grave at Göttingen, Germany, Youtube, retrieved 4 January 2016
  35. ^ Erich Dinkler, Planck, Max, in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Third Edition, Volume V, Tübingen (Germany), 1961, col. 404-405
  36. ^ The Religious Affiliation of Physicist Max Planck. Retrieved on 2011-07-05.
  37. ^ The Life Max Planck. Retrieved on 2012-03-07.
  38. ^ a b "The religion of Max Planck, physicist". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  39. ^ Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)
  40. ^ Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184 (from
  41. ^ Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers
  42. ^ J. L. Heilbron (1986). The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science. Harvard University Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780674004399. On the other side, Church spokesmen could scarcely become enthusiastic about Planck's deism, which omitted all reference to established religions and had no more doctrinal content than Einstein's Judaism. It seemed useful therefore to paint the lily, to improve the lesson of Planck's life for the use of proselytizers and to associate the deanthropomorphizer of science with a belief in a traditional Godhead.
  43. ^ Heilbron, 2000, page 198


  • Aczel, Amir D. Entanglement, Chapter 4. (Penguin, 2003) ISBN 978-0-452-28457-9
  • Heilbron, J. L. (2000). The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00439-6.
  • Pickover, Clifford A. Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them, Oxford University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-533611-5
  • Medawar, Jean: Pyke, David (2012). Hitler's Gift: The True Story of the Scientists Expelled by the Nazi Regime (Paperback). New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61145-709-4.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Rosenthal-Schneider, Ilse Reality and Scientific Truth: Discussions with Einstein, von Laue, and Planck (Wayne State University, 1980) ISBN 0-8143-1650-6

External links

[Max Planck - Selbstdarstellung im Filmportrait = Max Planck - Selbstdarstellung im Filmportrait (1942) (1942)]

Bert Sakmann

Bert Sakmann (born 12 June 1942) is a German cell physiologist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Erwin Neher in 1991 for their work on "the function of single ion channels in cells," and invention of the patch clamp. Bert Sakmann was Professor at Heidelberg University and is an Emeritus Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. Since 2008 he leads an emeritus research group at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology.

Kaiser Wilhelm Society

The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science (German Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften) was a German scientific institution established in the German Empire in 1911. Under the Third Reich it was involved in Nazi scientific operations, and after World War II concluded, its functions were taken over by the Max Planck Society. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was an umbrella organisation for many institutes, testing stations, and research units created under its authority.

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (KHI) is one of the oldest research institutions dedicated to the History of Art and Architecture in Italy, where facets of European, Mediterranean and global history are investigated.

Founded in 1897 on the private initiative of a group of independent scholars, it has been under the auspices of the Max Planck Society since 2002. Approximately seventy scholars are currently employed at the Institute, which is run by two directors, and the promotion of international young academics is high on its internal agenda. In addition to numerous individual research projects, those funded by third parties and a multiplicity of international collaborations with universities, museums and research institutes, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz provides a platform for larger long- and medium-term projects whose subject matter ranges from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age.

The Institute's resources, including the library with over 360,000 volumes, some of which are extremely rare, over 1,070 ongoing journal subscriptions, and one of the most wide-ranging photographic libraries on Italian art, are placed at the disposal of researchers from all over the world. With its programme of public academic events the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is a unique institution for international and interdisciplinary academic exchange.

Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

The Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) is a research institute located in Garching, just north of Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is one of many scientific research institutes belonging to the Max Planck Society.

The MPA is widely considered to be one of the leading institutions in the world for theoretical astrophysics research. According to Thomson Reuters, from 1999-2009 the Max Planck Society as a whole published more papers and accumulated more citations in the fields of physics and space science than any other research organization in the world.

Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute) in Göttingen is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. Currently, 850 people work at the institute, about half of them are scientists.

The Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry is the only one of the institutes within the Max Planck Society which combines the three classical scientific disciplines – biology, physics and chemistry. Founded in 1971, its initial focus was set on physical and chemical problems. It has since undergone a continuous evolution manifested by an expanding range of core subjects and work areas such as neurobiology, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (German: Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie, shortened to MPI EVA) is a research institute based in Leipzig, Germany, founded in 1997. It is part of the Max Planck Society network.

The institute comprises four departments (Evolutionary Genetics, Human Evolution, Primatology and Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture), several Research Groups, and The Leipzig School of Human Origins. About 375 people are currently employed at the institute.The former Department of Linguistics, which ran from 1998 to 2015, was closed in May 2015, upon the retirement of its director, Bernard Comrie. The former Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology operated from 1998 to 2018 under director Michael Tomasello.Well-known scientists currently based at the institute include Svante Pääbo (genetics), Michael Tomasello (psychology), Christophe Boesch (primatology), Jean-Jacques Hublin (evolution) and Richard McElreath (evolutionary ecology).

Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) is a Max Planck Institute whose research is aimed at investigating Einstein’s theory of relativity and beyond: Mathematics, quantum gravity, astrophysical relativity, and gravitational wave astronomy. The Institute was founded in 1995 and is located in Golm, Potsdam (theoretical branch) and in Hannover (experimental branch).

The institute is involved in a number of collaborations and projects: The experimental branch is a main partner in the gravitational wave detector GEO 600; institute scientists are involved in analyzing data for the detectors of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and in planning and preparing the space-based detector LISA. The institute is also a major player in the Einstein@Home and PyCBC projects.

Since 1998, the institute has published the open access review journal Living Reviews in Relativity.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences is located in Leipzig, Germany. The institute was founded in 2004 by a merger between the former Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich. It is one of 83 institutes in the Max Planck Society (Max Planck Gesellschaft).

Max Planck Institute for Informatics

The Max Planck Institute for Informatics (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik, abbreviated MPI-INF or MPII) is a research institute in computer science with a focus on algorithms and their applications in a broad sense. It hosts fundamental research (algorithms and complexity, programming logics) as well a research for various application domains (computer graphics, geometric computation, constraint solving, computational biology). It is part of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Germany's largest publicly funded body for foundation research.

The research institutes of the Max Planck Society have a national and international reputation as “Centres of Excellence” for pure research.

Max Planck Institute for Mathematics

The Max Planck Institute for Mathematics (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik, MPIM) is a research institute located in Bonn, Germany. It is named in honor of the German physicist Max Planck

and forms part of the Max Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft), an association of 84 institutes engaging in fundamental research in the arts and the sciences. The MPIM is the only Max Planck institute specializing in pure mathematics.

The Institute was founded by Friedrich Hirzebruch in 1980, having emerged from the collaborative research center "Theoretical Mathematics" (Sonderforschungsbereich "Theoretische Mathematik"). Hirzebruch shaped the institute as its director until his retirement in 1995. Currently, the institute is managed by a board of five directors consisting of Peter Teichner (managing director), Werner Ballmann, Gerd Faltings, Peter Scholze, and Don Zagier. Friedrich Hirzebruch was, and Yuri Manin and Günter Harder are, acting as emeriti.

Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

The Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences(MPI

MiS) in Leipzig is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. Founded on March 1, 1996, the institute works on projects which apply mathematics in various areas of natural sciences, in particular physics, biology, chemistry and material science.

Its main areas of research are:

Nonlinear algebra (group of Bernd Sturmfels),

Pattern formation, energy landscapes and scaling laws (group of Felix Otto),

Riemannian, Kählerian and algebraic geometry (group of Jürgen Jost),

Neuronal networks (group of Jürgen Jost).The institute has an extensive visitors programme which has made Leipzig a main place for research in applied mathematics.

The MPI MiS is a member of ERCOM (European Research Centres in Mathematics).

Max Planck Institute for Physics

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is a physics institute in Munich, Germany that specializes in high energy physics and astroparticle physics. It is part of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and is also known as the Werner Heisenberg Institute, after its first director in its current location.

The founding of the institute traces back to 1914, as an idea from Fritz Haber, Walther Nernst, Max Planck, Emil Warburg, Heinrich Rubens. On October 1, 1917, the institute was officially founded in Berlin as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) with Albert Einstein as the first head director. In October 1922, Max von Laue succeeded Einstein as managing director. Einstein gave up his position as a director of the institute in April 1933. The Institute took part in the German nuclear weapon project from 1939-1942.A year after the end of fighting in Europe in World War II, the institute was moved to Göttingen and renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics, with Heisenberg continuing as managing director. In 1946, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Karl Wirtz joined the faculty as the directors for theoretical and experimental physics, respectively.In June 1942, Werner Heisenberg took over as managing director. In 1955 the institute made the decision to move to Munich, and soon after began construction of its current building, designed by Sep Ruf. The institute moved into its current location on September 1, 1958 and took on the new name the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics, still with Heisenberg as the managing director. In 1991, the institute was split into the Max Planck Institute for Physics, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy

The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfRA) (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie) is located in Bonn, Germany. It is one of 80 institutes in the Max Planck Society (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft). 50°43′47.6″N 7°4′9.2″E

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (abbreviation: MPS; German: Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung) is a research institute in astronomy and astrophysics located in Göttingen, Germany, where it relocated in February 2014 from the nearby village of Lindau. The exploration of the solar system is the central theme for research done at this institute.

MPS is a part of the Max Planck Society, which operates 80 research facilities in Germany.

Over the last five years, members of the Institute have each year published about 270 articles in international journals and books and given 360 conference presentations.

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin was established in March 1994. Its research is primarily devoted to a theoretically oriented history of science, principally of the natural sciences, but with methodological perspectives drawn from the cognitive sciences and from cultural history. All three departments of the Institute aim at the construction of a 'historical epistemology' of the sciences.Historical epistemology deals with the historical development of knowledge and the technical, social, intellectual, and cultural processes surrounding the acquisition of knowledge in context. Building upon detailed studies from the history of particular sciences, historical epistemology investigates the emergence and evolution of key concepts such as 'number', 'force', 'motion', 'gene', 'organism', and 'field', as well as central categories and practices like 'representation', 'probability', 'causality', 'experiment', 'deduction', 'determinism', and 'objectivity'. The combination of highly specific historical inquiries within this more global framework of inquiry permits comparisons and generalizations spanning numerous disciplines.

The institute is affiliated with the Max Planck Society and is located in the Berlin neighborhood of Dahlem.

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte) performs basic research into archaeogenetics and linguistic and cultural evolution. The institute is one of 80+ research institutes of the Max Planck Society and is located in Jena, Germany.

The co-directors of the institute are:

Nicole Boivin (Department of Archaeology)

Russell Gray (Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution)

Johannes Krause (Department of Archeogenetics)

Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry

The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) is a research institute of the Max Planck Society located in Martinsried, a suburb of Munich. The Institute was "founded in 1973 by the merger of three formerly independent institutes: the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, the Max Planck Institute of Protein and Leather Research (founded 1954 in Regensburg), and the Max Planck Institute of Cell Chemistry (founded 1956 in Munich)."With 850 employees in currently eight research departments and about 25 research groups, the MPIB is one of the largest biologically-medically oriented institutes of the Max Planck Society.

Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics

The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (German: Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik, IPP) is a physics institute investigating the physical foundations of a fusion power plant.

The IPP is an institute of the Max Planck Society, part of the European Atomic Energy Community, and an associated member of the Helmholtz Association.

The IPP has two sites: Garching near Munich (founded 1960) and Greifswald (founded 1994), both in Germany.

It owns several large devices, namely

the experimental tokamak ASDEX Upgrade (in operation since 1991)

the experimental stellarator Wendelstein 7-X (in operation since 2016)

a tandem accelerator

a high heat flux test facility (GLADIS)Furthermore it cooperates closely with the ITER, DEMO and JET projects.

Max Planck Society

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.; abbreviated MPG) is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and renamed the Max Planck Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany.According to its primary goal, the Max Planck Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 84 (as of December 2017) Max Planck Institutes. The society has a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests. The society's budget for 2015 was about €1.7 billion. As of December 31, 2016, the Max Planck Society employed a total of 22,995 staff, of whom 14,036 were scientists, which represents nearly 61 percent of the total number of employees. 44.3% were female employees and 27% of all of the employees were foreign nationals.The Max Planck Institutes focus on excellence in research. The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and is widely regarded as one of the foremost basic research organizations in the world. In 2018, the Nature Publishing Index placed the Max Planck institutes third worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Harvard University). In terms of total research volume (unweighted by citations or impact), the Max Planck Society is only outranked by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences and Harvard University in the Times Higher Education institutional rankings. The Thomson Reuters-Science Watch website placed the Max Planck Society as the second leading research organization worldwide following Harvard University in terms of the impact of the produced research over science fields.The Max Planck Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including luminaries such as Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein.

Recipients of the Copley Medal (1901–1950)
Physical constants
Planck's natural units
Base Planck units
Derived Planck units

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