Werner Karl Heisenberg (/ˈhaɪzənbɜːrɡ/; German: [ˈvɛɐ̯nɐ ˈhaɪzn̩ˌbɛɐ̯k]; 5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. He published his work in 1925 in a breakthrough paper. In the subsequent series of papers with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, during the same year, this matrix formulation of quantum mechanics was substantially elaborated. He is known for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which he published in 1927. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the creation of quantum mechanics".
He also made important contributions to the theories of the hydrodynamics of turbulent flows, the atomic nucleus, ferromagnetism, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles, and he was instrumental in planning the first West German nuclear reactor at Karlsruhe, together with a research reactor in Munich, in 1957. He was a principal scientist in the Nazi German nuclear weapon project during World War II. He travelled to occupied Copenhagen where he met and discussed the German project with Niels Bohr.
Following World War II, he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which soon thereafter was renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics. He was director of the institute until it was moved to Munich in 1958, when it was expanded and renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics.
Heisenberg was also president of the German Research Council, chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics, chairman of the Nuclear Physics Working Group, and president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Heisenberg in 1933
Werner Karl Heisenberg
5 December 1901
|Died||1 February 1976 (aged 74)|
|Resting place||Munich Waldfriedhof|
Elisabeth Schumacher (m. 1937)
|Children||7 (incl. Jochen and Martin)|
|Thesis||On stability and turbulence of liquid flows (1923)|
|Doctoral advisor||Arnold Sommerfeld|
|Other academic advisors|
|Other notable students|
Werner Karl Heisenberg was born in Würzburg, Germany, to Kaspar Ernst August Heisenberg, a secondary school teacher of classical languages who became Germany's only ordentlicher Professor (ordinarius professor) of medieval and modern Greek studies in the university system, and his wife, Annie Wecklein.
He studied physics and mathematics from 1920 to 1923 at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Georg-August University of Göttingen. At Munich, he studied under Arnold Sommerfeld and Wilhelm Wien. At Göttingen, he studied physics with Max Born and James Franck and mathematics with David Hilbert. He received his doctorate in 1923, at Munich under Sommerfeld. At Göttingen, under Born, he completed his habilitation in 1924 with a Habilitationsschrift (habilitation thesis) on the anomalous Zeeman effect.
Because Sommerfeld had a sincere interest in his students and knew of Heisenberg's interest in Niels Bohr's theories on atomic physics, Sommerfeld took Heisenberg to Göttingen to attend the Bohr Festival of June 1922. At the event, Bohr was a guest lecturer and gave a series of comprehensive lectures on quantum atomic physics. There, Heisenberg met Bohr for the first time, and it had a significant and continuing effect on him.
Heisenberg's doctoral thesis, the topic of which was suggested by Sommerfeld, was on turbulence; the thesis discussed both the stability of laminar flow and the nature of turbulent flow. The problem of stability was investigated by the use of the Orr–Sommerfeld equation, a fourth order linear differential equation for small disturbances from laminar flow. He briefly returned to this topic after World War II.
In his youth he was a member and Scoutleader of the Neupfadfinder, a German Scout association and part of the German Youth Movement. In August 1923 Robert Honsell and Heisenberg organized a trip to Finland with a Scout group of this association from Munich.
Heisenberg arrived at Munich in 1919 as a member of the Freikorps to fight the Bavarian Soviet Republic established a year earlier. Five decades later he recalled those days as youthful fun, like "playing cops and robbers and so on; it was nothing serious at all."
From 1924 to 1927, Heisenberg was a Privatdozent at Göttingen, meaning he was qualified to teach and examine independently, without having a chair. From 17 September 1924 to 1 May 1925, under an International Education Board Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, Heisenberg went to do research with Niels Bohr, director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen. His seminal paper, "Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen" ("Quantum theoretical re-interpretation of kinematic and mechanical relations"), was published in September 1925. He returned to Göttingen and, with Max Born and Pascual Jordan over a period of about six months, developed the matrix mechanics formulation of quantum mechanics. On 1 May 1926, Heisenberg began his appointment as a university lecturer and assistant to Bohr in Copenhagen. It was in Copenhagen, in 1927, that Heisenberg developed his uncertainty principle, while working on the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. On 23 February, Heisenberg wrote a letter to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli, in which he first described his new principle. In his paper on the principle, Heisenberg used the word "Ungenauigkeit" (imprecision), not uncertainty, to describe it.
In 1927, Heisenberg was appointed ordentlicher Professor (professor ordinarius) of theoretical physics and head of the department of physics at the University of Leipzig; he gave his inaugural lecture there on 1 February 1928. In his first paper published from Leipzig, Heisenberg used the Pauli exclusion principle to solve the mystery of ferromagnetism.
During Heisenberg's tenure at Leipzig, the high quality of the doctoral students and post-graduate and research associates who studied and worked with him is clear from the acclaim many later earned. At various times they included Erich Bagge, Felix Bloch, Ugo Fano, Siegfried Flügge, William Vermillion Houston, Friedrich Hund, Robert S. Mulliken, Rudolf Peierls, George Placzek, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Fritz Sauter, John C. Slater, Edward Teller, John Hasbrouck van Vleck, Victor Frederick Weisskopf, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Gregor Wentzel, and Clarence Zener.
In early 1929, Heisenberg and Pauli submitted the first of two papers laying the foundation for relativistic quantum field theory. Also in 1929, Heisenberg went on a lecture tour of China, Japan, India, and the United States. In the spring of 1929, he was a visiting lecturer at the University of Chicago, where he lectured on quantum mechanics.
In 1928, the British mathematical physicist Paul Dirac had derived his relativistic wave equation of quantum mechanics, which implied the existence of positive electrons, later to be named positrons. In 1932, from a cloud chamber photograph of cosmic rays, the American physicist Carl David Anderson identified a track as having been made by a positron. In mid-1933, Heisenberg presented his theory of the positron. His thinking on Dirac's theory and further development of the theory were set forth in two papers. The first, "Bemerkungen zur Diracschen Theorie des Positrons" ("Remarks on Dirac's theory of the positron") was published in 1934, and the second, "Folgerungen aus der Diracschen Theorie des Positrons" ("Consequences of Dirac's Theory of the Positron"), was published in 1936. In these papers Heisenberg was the first to reinterpret the Dirac equation as a "classical" field equation for any point particle of spin ħ/2, itself subject to quantization conditions involving anti-commutators. Thus reinterpreting it as a (quantum) field equation accurately describing electrons, Heisenberg put matter on the same footing as electromagnetism: as being described by relativistic quantum field equations which allowed the possibility of particle creation and destruction. (Hermann Weyl had already described this in a 1929 letter to Albert Einstein.)
Heisenberg's paper establishing quantum mechanics has puzzled physicists and historians. His methods assume that the reader is familiar with Kramers-Heisenberg transition probability calculations. The main new idea, non-commuting matrices, is justified only by a rejection of unobservable quantities. It introduces the non-commutative multiplication of matrices by physical reasoning, based on the correspondence principle, despite the fact that Heisenberg was not then familiar with the mathematical theory of matrices. The path leading to these results has been reconstructed in MacKinnon, 1977, and the detailed calculations are worked out in Aitchison et al.
In Copenhagen, Heisenberg and Hans Kramers collaborated on a paper on dispersion, or the scattering from atoms of radiation whose wavelength is larger than the atoms. They showed that the successful formula Kramers had developed earlier could not be based on Bohr orbits, because the transition frequencies are based on level spacings which are not constant. The frequencies which occur in the Fourier transform of sharp classical orbits, by contrast, are equally spaced. But these results could be explained by a semi-classical virtual state model: the incoming radiation excites the valence, or outer, electron to a virtual state from which it decays. In a subsequent paper Heisenberg showed that this virtual oscillator model could also explain the polarization of fluorescent radiation.
These two successes, and the continuing failure of the Bohr–Sommerfeld model to explain the outstanding problem of the anomalous Zeeman effect, led Heisenberg to use the virtual oscillator model to try to calculate spectral frequencies. The method proved too difficult to immediately apply to realistic problems, so Heisenberg turned to a simpler example, the anharmonic oscillator.
The dipole oscillator consists of a simple harmonic oscillator, which is thought of as a charged particle on a spring, perturbed by an external force, like an external charge. The motion of the oscillating charge can be expressed as a Fourier series in the frequency of the oscillator. Heisenberg solved for the quantum behavior by two different methods. First, he treated the system with the virtual oscillator method, calculating the transitions between the levels that would be produced by the external source.
He then solved the same problem by treating the anharmonic potential term as a perturbation to the harmonic oscillator and using the perturbation methods that he and Born had developed. Both methods led to the same results for the first and the very complicated second order correction terms. This suggested that behind the very complicated calculations lay a consistent scheme.
So Heisenberg set out to formulate these results without any explicit dependence on the virtual oscillator model. To do this, he replaced the Fourier expansions for the spatial coordinates by matrices, matrices which corresponded to the transition coefficients in the virtual oscillator method. He justified this replacement by an appeal to Bohr's correspondence principle and the Pauli doctrine that quantum mechanics must be limited to observables.
On 9 July, Heisenberg gave Born this paper to review and submit for publication. When Born read the paper, he recognized the formulation as one which could be transcribed and extended to the systematic language of matrices, which he had learned from his study under Jakob Rosanes at Breslau University. Born, with the help of his assistant and former student Pascual Jordan, began immediately to make the transcription and extension, and they submitted their results for publication; the paper was received for publication just 60 days after Heisenberg's paper. A follow-on paper was submitted for publication before the end of the year by all three authors.
Up until this time, matrices were seldom used by physicists; they were considered to belong to the realm of pure mathematics. Gustav Mie had used them in a paper on electrodynamics in 1912 and Born had used them in his work on the lattice theory of crystals in 1921. While matrices were used in these cases, the algebra of matrices with their multiplication did not enter the picture as they did in the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics.
In 1928, Albert Einstein nominated Heisenberg, Born, and Jordan for the Nobel Prize in Physics, The announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 was delayed until November 1933. It was at that time that it was announced Heisenberg had won the Prize for 1932 "for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen".
Shortly after the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick in 1932, Heisenberg submitted the first of three papers on his neutron-proton model of the nucleus. After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Heisenberg was attacked in the press as a "White Jew". Supporters of Deutsche Physik, or Aryan Physics, launched vicious attacks against leading theoretical physicists, including Arnold Sommerfeld and Heisenberg. From the early 1930s onward, the anti-Semitic and anti-theoretical physics movement Deutsche Physik had concerned itself with quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. As applied in the university environment, political factors took priority over the historically applied concept of scholarly ability, even though its two most prominent supporters were the Nobel Laureates in Physics Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark.
There had been many failed attempts to have Heisenberg appointed as professor at a variety of German universities. His attempt to be appointed as the successor to Arnold Sommerfeld failed because of opposition by the Deutsche Physik movement. On 1 April 1935, the eminent theoretical physicist Sommerfeld, Heisenberg's doctoral advisor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, achieved emeritus status. However, Sommerfeld stayed in his chair during the selection process for his successor, which took until 1 December 1939. The process was lengthy due to academic and political differences between the Munich Faculty's selection and that of the Reichserziehungsministerium (Reich Education Ministry) and the supporters of Deutsche Physik.
In 1935, the Munich Faculty drew up a list of candidates to replace Sommerfeld as ordinarius professor of theoretical physics and head of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Munich. The three candidates had all been former students of Sommerfeld: Heisenberg, who had received the Nobel Prize in Physics; Peter Debye, who had received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1936; and Richard Becker. The Munich Faculty was firmly behind these candidates, with Heisenberg as their first choice. However, supporters of Deutsche Physik and elements in the REM had their own list of candidates, and the battle dragged on for over four years. During this time, Heisenberg came under vicious attack by the Deutsche Physik supporters. One attack was published in Das Schwarze Korps, the newspaper of the Schutzstaffel (SS), headed by Heinrich Himmler. In this, Heisenberg was called a "White Jew" (i.e. an Aryan who acts like a Jew) who should be made to "disappear". These attacks were taken seriously, as Jews were violently attacked and incarcerated. Heisenberg fought back with an editorial and a letter to Himmler, in an attempt to resolve the matter and regain his honour.
At one point, Heisenberg's mother visited Himmler's mother. The two women knew each other, as Heisenberg's maternal grandfather and Himmler's father were rectors and members of a Bavarian hiking club. Eventually, Himmler settled the Heisenberg affair by sending two letters, one to SS Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and one to Heisenberg, both on 21 July 1938. In the letter to Heydrich, Himmler said Germany could not afford to lose or silence Heisenberg, as he would be useful for teaching a generation of scientists. To Heisenberg, Himmler said the letter came on recommendation of his family and he cautioned Heisenberg to make a distinction between professional physics research results and the personal and political attitudes of the involved scientists.
Wilhelm Müller replaced Sommerfeld at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Müller was not a theoretical physicist, had not published in a physics journal, and was not a member of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft; his appointment was considered a travesty and detrimental to educating theoretical physicists.
The three investigators who led the SS investigation of Heisenberg had training in physics—Heisenberg had participated in the doctoral examination of one of them at the Universität Leipzig. The most influential of the three was Johannes Juilfs. During their investigation, they became supporters of Heisenberg as well as his position against the ideological policies of the Deutsche Physik movement in theoretical physics and academia.
On 29 June 1936, a Nazi Party newspaper published a column attacking Heisenberg. On 15 July 1937, he was attacked in a journal of the SS. In mid-1936, Heisenberg presented his theory of cosmic-ray showers in two papers. Four more papers appeared in the next two years. In December 1938, the German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann sent a manuscript to Naturwissenschaften reporting they had detected the element barium after bombarding uranium with neutrons and Otto Hahn concluded a bursting of the uranium nucleus; simultaneously, Hahn communicated these results to his friend Lise Meitner, who had in July of that year fled to the Netherlands and then went to Sweden. Meitner, and her nephew Otto Robert Frisch, correctly interpreted Hahn's and Strassmann's results as being nuclear fission. Frisch confirmed this experimentally on 13 January 1939.
In June 1939, Heisenberg bought a summer home for his family in Urfeld am Walchensee, in southern Germany. He also traveled to the United States in June and July, visiting Samuel Abraham Goudsmit at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. However, Heisenberg refused an invitation to emigrate to the United States. He did not see Goudsmit again until six years later, when Goudsmit was the chief scientific advisor to the American Operation Alsos at the close of World War II.
The German nuclear weapons program, known as Uranverein, was formed on 1 September 1939, the day World War II began. The Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office) had squeezed the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council) out of the Reichserziehungsministerium (REM, Reich Ministry of Education) and started the formal German nuclear energy project under military auspices. The project had its first meeting on 16 September 1939. The meeting was organized by Kurt Diebner, advisor to the HWA, and held in Berlin. The invitees included Walther Bothe, Siegfried Flügge, Hans Geiger, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, Gerhard Hoffmann, Josef Mattauch and Georg Stetter. A second meeting was held soon thereafter and included Heisenberg, Klaus Clusius, Robert Döpel and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. The Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) in Berlin-Dahlem, was placed under HWA authority, with Diebner as the administrative director, and the military control of the nuclear research commenced. During the period Diebner administered the KWIP under the HWA program, considerable personal and professional animosity developed between Diebner and Heisenberg's inner circle, which included Karl Wirtz, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker.
At a scientific conference on 26–28 February 1942 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, called by the Army Weapons Office, Heisenberg presented a lecture to Reichs officials on energy acquisition from nuclear fission. The lecture, entitled "Die theoretischen Grundlagen für die Energiegewinning aus der Uranspaltung" was, as Heisenberg confessed after the Second World War in a letter to Samuel Goudsmit, "adapted to the intellectual level of a Reichs Minister". Heisenberg lectured on the enormous energy potential of nuclear fission, stating that 250 million electron volts could be released through the fission of an atomic nucleus. Heisenberg stressed that pure U-235 had to be obtained to achieve a chain reaction. He explored various ways of obtaining isotope 235 U/92 in its pure from, including uranium enrichment and an alternative layered method of normal uranium and a moderator in a machine. This machine, he noted, could be used in practical ways to fuel vehicles, ships and submarines. Heisenberg stressed the importance of the Army Weapons Office's financial and material support for this scientific endeavour. A second scientific conference followed. Lectures were heard on problems of modern physics with decisive importance for the national defense and economy. The conference was attended by Bernhard Rust, the Reichs Minister of Science, Education and National Culture. At the conference Reichs Minister Rust decided to take the nuclear project away from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. The Reichs Research Council was to take on the project. In April 1942 the army returned the Physics Institute to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, naming Heisenberg as Director at the Institute. With this appointment at the KWIP, Heisenberg obtained his first professorship. Peter Debye was still director of the institute, but had gone on leave to the United States after he had refused to become a German citizen when the HWA took administrative control of the KWIP. Heisenberg still also had his department of physics at the University of Leipzig where work had been done for the Uranverein by Robert Döpel and his wife Klara Döpel.
On 4 June 1942, Heisenberg was summoned to report to Albert Speer, Germany's Minister of Armaments, on the prospects for converting the Uranverein's research toward developing nuclear weapons. During the meeting, Heisenberg told Speer that a bomb could not be built before 1945, because it would require significant monetary resources and number of personnel.
After the Uranverein project was placed under the leadership of the Reichs Research Council, it focused on nuclear power production and thus maintained its kriegswichtig (importance for the war); funding therefore continued from the military. The nuclear power project was broken down into the following main areas: uranium and heavy water production, uranium isotope separation and the Uranmaschine (uranium machine, i.e., nuclear reactor). The project was then essentially split up between a number of institutes, where the directors dominated the research and set their own research agendas. The point in 1942, when the army relinquished its control of the German nuclear weapons program, was the zenith of the project relative to the number of personnel. About 70 scientists worked for the program, with about 40 devoting more than half their time to nuclear fission research. After 1942, the number of scientists working on applied nuclear fission diminished dramatically. Many of the scientists not working with the main institutes stopped working on nuclear fission and devoted their efforts to more pressing war related work.
In September 1942, Heisenberg submitted his first paper of a three-part series on the scattering matrix, or S-matrix, in elementary particle physics. The first two papers were published in 1943 and the third in 1944. The S-matrix described only the states of incident particles in a collision process, the states of those emerging from the collision, and stable bound states; there would be no reference to the intervening states. This was the same precedent as he followed in 1925 in what turned out to be the foundation of the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics through only the use of observables.
In February 1943, Heisenberg was appointed to the Chair for Theoretical Physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (today, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). In April, his election to the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Prussian Academy of Sciences) was approved. That same month, he moved his family to their retreat in Urfeld as Allied bombing increased in Berlin. In the summer, he dispatched the first of his staff at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik to Hechingen and its neighboring town of Haigerloch, on the edge of the Black Forest, for the same reasons. From 18–26 October, he travelled to German-occupied Netherlands. In December 1943, Heisenberg visited German-occupied Poland.
From 24 January to 4 February 1944, Heisenberg travelled to occupied Copenhagen, after the German army confiscated Bohr's Institute of Theoretical Physics. He made a short return trip in April. In December, Heisenberg lectured in neutral Switzerland. The United States Office of Strategic Services sent agent Moe Berg to attend the lecture carrying a pistol, with orders to shoot Heisenberg if his lecture indicated that Germany was close to completing an atomic bomb.
In January 1945, Heisenberg, with most of the rest of his staff, moved from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik to the facilities in the Black Forest.
The Alsos Mission was an Allied effort to determine if the Germans had an atomic bomb program and to exploit German atomic related facilities, research, material resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the US. Personnel on this operation generally swept into areas which had just come under control of the Allied military forces, but sometimes they operated in areas still under control by German forces. Berlin had been a location of many German scientific research facilities. To limit casualties and loss of equipment, many of these facilities were dispersed to other locations in the latter years of the war. The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) had been bombed so it had mostly been moved in 1943 and 1944 to Hechingen and its neighboring town of Haigerloch, on the edge of the Black Forest, which eventually became the French occupation zone. This allowed the American task force of the Alsos Mission to take into custody a large number of German scientists associated with nuclear research.
On 30 March, the Alsos Mission reached Heidelberg, where important scientists were captured including Walther Bothe, Richard Kuhn, Philipp Lenard, and Wolfgang Gertner. Their interrogation revealed that Otto Hahn was at his laboratory in Tailfingen, while Heisenberg and Max von Laue were at Heisenberg's laboratory in Hechingen, and that the experimental natural uranium reactor that Heisenberg's team had built in Berlin had been moved to Haigerloch. Henceforth, the main focus of the Alsos Mission was on these nuclear facilities in the Württemberg area. Heisenberg was captured and arrested in Urfeld, on 3 May 1945, in an alpine operation in territory still under control by German forces. He was taken to Heidelberg, where, on 5 May, he met Goudsmit for the first time since the Ann Arbor visit in 1939. Germany surrendered just two days later. Heisenberg would not see his family again for eight months, as he was moved across France and Belgium and flown to England on 3 July 1945.
Nine of the prominent German scientists who published reports in Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte as members of the Uranverein were captured by Operation Alsos and incarcerated in England under Operation Epsilon. 10 German scientists, including Heisenberg, were held at Farm Hall in England. The facility had been a safe house of the British foreign intelligence MI6. During their detention, their conversations were recorded. Conversations thought to be of intelligence value were transcribed and translated into English. The transcripts were released in 1992. On the 6th of August 1945 the scientists at Farm Hall learned from media reports that the USA had dropped an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan. At first there was disbelief that a bomb had been built and dropped. In the weeks that followed, the German scientists discussed how the USA may have built the bomb.
The Farm Hall transcripts reveal that Heisenberg, along with other physicists interned at Farm Hall including Otto Hahn and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, were glad the Allies had won World War II. Heisenberg told scientists that he had never contemplated a bomb, only an atomic pile to produce energy. The morality of creating a bomb for the Nazis was also discussed. Only a few of the scientists expressed genuine horror at the prospect of nuclear weapons, and Heisenberg himself was cautious in discussing the matter. On the failure of the German nuclear weapons program to build an atomic bomb, Heisenberg remarked: "We wouldn't have had the moral courage to recommend to the Government in the spring of 1942 that they should employ 120,000 men just for building the thing up."
On 3 January 1946, the 10 Operation Epsilon detainees were transported to Alswede in Germany, which was in the British occupation zone. Heisenberg settled in Göttingen, also in the British zone. In July, he was named director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics), then located in Göttingen. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed the Max Planck Institut für Physik, in honor of Max Planck and to assuage political objections to the continuation of the institute.
In 1949, the Deutsche Forschungsrat (German Research Council) was established by the Max-Planck Gesellschaft (MPG, Max Planck Society, successor organization to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft). Heisenberg was appointed president of the Deutsche Forschungsrat. In 1951, the organization was fused with the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft (NG, Emergency Association of German Science) and that same year renamed the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). With the merger, Heisenberg was appointed to the presidium.
In 1952, Heisenberg served as the chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics of the DFG. Also that year, he headed the German delegation to the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). In 1953, Heisenberg was appointed president of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung by Konrad Adenauer. Heisenberg served until 1975. Also, from 1953, Heisenberg's theoretical work concentrated on the unified field theory of elementary particles.
In 1958 the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik was moved to Munich, expanded, and renamed Max-Planck-Institut für Physik und Astrophysik (MPIFA). In the interim, Heisenberg and the astrophysicist Ludwig Biermann were co-directors of MPIFA. Heisenberg also became an ordentlicher Professor (ordinarius professor) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Heisenberg was the sole director of MPIFA from 1960 to 1970. Heisenberg resigned his directorship of the MPIFA on 31 December 1970.
In 1946 the German scientist Heinz Pose, head of Laboratory V in Obninsk, wrote a letter to Heisenberg inviting him to work in the USSR. The letter lauded the working conditions in the USSR and the available resources, as well as the favorable attitude of the Soviets towards German scientists. A courier hand delivered the recruitment letter, dated 18 July 1946, to Heisenberg; Heisenberg politely declined. In 1947, Heisenberg presented lectures in Cambridge, Edinburgh and Bristol. Heisenberg contributed to the understanding of the phenomenon of superconductivity with a paper in 1947 and two papers in 1948, one of them with Max von Laue.
In the period shortly after World War II, Heisenberg briefly returned to the subject of his doctoral thesis, turbulence. Three papers were published in 1948 and one in 1950. In the post-war period Heisenberg continued his interests in cosmic-ray showers with considerations on multiple production of mesons. He published three papers in 1949, two in 1952, and one in 1955.
In late 1955 to early 1956, Heisenberg gave the Gifford Lectures at St Andrews University, in Scotland, on the intellectual history of physics. The lectures were later published as Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science. During 1956 and 1957, Heisenberg was the chairman of the Arbeitskreis Kernphysik (Nuclear Physics Working Group) of the Fachkommission II "Forschung und Nachwuchs" (Commission II "Research and Growth") of the Deutschen Atomkommission (DAtK, German Atomic Energy Commission). Other members of the Nuclear Physics Working Group in both 1956 and 1957 were: Walther Bothe, Hans Kopfermann (vice-chairman), Fritz Bopp, Wolfgang Gentner, Otto Haxel, Willibald Jentschke, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz, Josef Mattauch, Wolfgang Riezler, Wilhelm Walcher and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. Wolfgang Paul was also a member of the group during 1957.
In 1957, Heisenberg was a signatory of the Declaration of the German Nuclear Physicists of the Göttinger Achtzehn (Göttingen Eighteen). From 1957, Heisenberg was interested in plasma physics and the process of nuclear fusion. He also collaborated with the International Institute of Atomic Physics in Geneva. He was a member of the Institute's Scientific Policy Committee, and for several years was the Committee's chairman. He was one of the eight signatories of the Memorandum of Tübingen which called for the recognition of the Oder-Neiße line as the official border between Germany and Poland and spoke against a possible nuclear armament of West Germany.
In 1973, Heisenberg gave a lecture at Harvard University on the historical development of the concepts of quantum theory. On 24 March 1973, Heisenberg gave a speech before the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, accepting the Romano Guardini Prize. An English translation of its title is "Scientific and Religious Truth". Its stated goal was "In what follows, then, we shall first of all deal with the unassailability and value of scientific truth, and then with the much wider field of religion, of which—so far as the Christian religion is concerned—Guardini himself has so persuasively written; finally—and this will be the hardest part to formulate—we shall speak of the relationship of the two truths."
In January 1937 Heisenberg met Elisabeth Schumacher (1914–1998) at a private music recital. Elisabeth was the daughter of a well-known Berlin economics professor, and her brother was the economist E. F. Schumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful. Heisenberg married her on 29 April. Fraternal twins Maria and Wolfgang were born in January 1938, whereupon Wolfgang Pauli congratulated Heisenberg on his "pair creation"—a word play on a process from elementary particle physics, pair production. They had five more children over the next 12 years: Barbara, Christine, Jochen, Martin and Verena. Martin became a neurobiologist at the University of Würzburg and Jochen a physics professor at the University of New Hampshire. Heisenberg enjoyed classical music and was an accomplished pianist.
Heisenberg was raised and lived as a Lutheran Christian. His autobiography starts with the young Heisenberg in his late teenage years, reading Plato's Timaeus while hiking in the Bavarian Alps. Heisenberg recounted the philosophical conversations with his fellow students and teachers on understanding the atom while receiving his scientific training in Munich, Göttingen and Copenhagen.
In his speech Scientific and Religious Truth (1974) while accepting the Romano Guardini Prize, Heisenberg affirmed:
In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I am now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on. Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of thought, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.— Heisenberg 1974, 213
Where no guiding ideals are left to point the way, the scale of values disappears and with it the meaning of our deeds and sufferings, and at the end can lie only negation and despair. Religion is therefore the foundation of ethics, and ethics the presupposition of life.— Heisenberg 1974, 219
In his late-sixties Heisenberg penned his autobiography for the mass market. In 1969 the book was published in Germany, in early 1971 it was published in English and in the years thereafter in a string of other languages. Heisenberg had initiated the project in 1966, when his public lectures increasingly turned to the subjects of philosophy and religion. Heisenberg had sent the publishers Hirzel and Wiley the manuscript for a textbook on the unified field theory. This manuscript, he wrote to one of his publishers, was the preparatory work for his autobiography. He structured his autobiography in themes, covering: 1) The goal of exact science, 2) The problematic of language in atomic physics, 3) Abstraction in mathematics and science, 4) The divisibility of matter or Kant's antinomy, 5) The basic symmetry and its substantiation, and 6) Science and religion.
Heisenberg wrote his memoirs as a chain of conversations, covering the course of his life. The book became a popular success, but was regarded as troublesome by historians of science. In the preface Heisenberg wrote that he had abridged historical events, to make them more concise. At the time of publication it was reviewed by Paul Forman in the journal Science with the comment "Now here is a memoir in the form of rationally reconstructed dialogue. And the dialogue as Galileo well knew, is itself a most insidious literary device: lively, entertaining, and especially suited for insinuating opinions while yet evading responsibility for them." Few scientific memoirs had been published, but Konrad Lorenz and Adolf Portmann had penned popular books that conveyed scholarship to a wide audience. Heisenberg worked on his autobiography with the publisher Piper in Munich and initially proposed the title Gespräche im Umkreis der Atomphysik (Conversations around atomic physics). He settled with his publisher on Der Teil und das Ganze (The part and the whole). An English translation under the title Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations was published in 1971.
Heisenberg died of cancer of the kidneys and gallbladder at his home, on 1 February 1976. The next evening, his colleagues and friends walked in remembrance from the Institute of Physics to his home and each put a candle near the front door. He is buried at Munich Waldfriedhof.
Heisenberg was awarded a number of honors:
The following reports were published in Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte (Research Reports in Nuclear Physics), an internal publication of the German Uranverein. The reports were classified Top Secret, they had very limited distribution, and the authors were not allowed to keep copies. The reports were confiscated under the Allied Operation Alsos and sent to the United States Atomic Energy Commission for evaluation. In 1971, the reports were declassified and returned to Germany. The reports are available at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center and the American Institute of Physics.
Cathryn Leigh Carson is a historian of science, known for her biography of Werner Heisenberg.
She holds the Thomas M. Siebel Presidential Chair in the History of Science at the University of California, Berkeley.Classical Heisenberg model
The Classical Heisenberg model is the case of the n-vector model, one of the models used in statistical physics to model ferromagnetism, and other phenomena.Copenhagen (play)
Copenhagen is a play by Michael Frayn, based on an event that occurred in Copenhagen in 1941, a meeting between the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. It premiered in London in 1998 at the National Theatre, running for more than 300 performances, starring David Burke (Niels Bohr), Sara Kestelman (Margrethe Bohr), and Matthew Marsh (Werner Heisenberg).
It opened on Broadway at the Royale Theatre on 11 April 2000 and ran for 326 performances. Directed by Michael Blakemore, it starred Philip Bosco (Niels Bohr), Michael Cumpsty (Werner Heisenberg), and Blair Brown (Margrethe Bohr). It won the Tony Award for Best Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play, Blair Brown, and Best Direction of a Play (Michael Blakemore).
In 2002, the play was adapted as a film by Howard Davies, produced by the BBC and presented on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States.Euler–Heisenberg Lagrangian
In physics, the Euler–Heisenberg Lagrangian describes the non-linear dynamics of electromagnetic fields in vacuum. It was first obtained by Werner Heisenberg and Hans Heinrich Euler in 1936. By treating the vacuum as a medium, it predicts rates of quantum electrodynamics (QED) light interaction processes.German nuclear weapons program
The German nuclear weapons project (German: Uranprojekt; informally known as the Uranverein; English: Uranium Society or Uranium Club) was a scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce nuclear weapons during World War II. The first effort started in April 1939, just months after the discovery of nuclear fission in December 1938, but ended only months later due to the German invasion of Poland, after many notable physicists were drafted into the Wehrmacht.
A second effort began under the administrative purview of the Wehrmacht's Heereswaffenamt on 1 September 1939, the day of the invasion of Poland. The program eventually expanded into three main efforts: the Uranmaschine (nuclear reactor), uranium and heavy water production, and uranium isotope separation. Eventually it was assessed that nuclear fission would not contribute significantly to ending the war, and in January 1942, the Heereswaffenamt turned the program over to the Reich Research Council (Reichsforschungsrat) while continuing to fund the program. The program was split up among nine major institutes where the directors dominated the research and set their own objectives. Subsequently, the number of scientists working on applied nuclear fission began to diminish, with many applying their talents to more pressing war-time demands.
The most influential people in the Uranverein were Kurt Diebner, Abraham Esau, Walther Gerlach, and Erich Schumann; Schumann was one of the most powerful and influential physicists in Germany. Diebner, throughout the life of the nuclear weapon project, had more control over nuclear fission research than did Walther Bothe, Klaus Clusius, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, or Werner Heisenberg. Abraham Esau was appointed as Hermann Göring's plenipotentiary for nuclear physics research in December 1942; Walther Gerlach succeeded him in December 1943.
Politicization of the German academia under the National Socialist regime had driven many physicists, engineers, and mathematicians out of Germany as early as 1933. Those of Jewish heritage who did not leave were quickly purged from German institutions, further thinning the ranks of academia. The politicization of the universities, along with the demands for manpower by the German armed forces (many scientists and technical personnel were conscripted, despite possessing useful skills), substantially reduced the number of able German physicists.At the end of the war, the Allied powers competed to obtain surviving components of the nuclear industry (personnel, facilities, and materiel), as they did with the pioneering V-2 SRBM missile program.Göttingen Manifesto
The Göttingen Manifesto was a declaration of 18 leading nuclear scientists of West Germany (among them the Nobel laureates Otto Hahn, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg and Max von Laue) against arming the West German army with tactical nuclear weapons in the 1950s, the early part of the Cold War, as the West German government under chancellor Adenauer had suggested.Heisenberg's microscope
Heisenberg's microscope exists only as a thought experiment, one that was proposed by Werner Heisenberg, criticized by his mentor Niels Bohr, and subsequently served as the nucleus of some commonly held ideas, and misunderstandings, about Quantum Mechanics. In particular, it provided an argument for the uncertainty principle on the basis of the principles of classical optics. Recent theoretical and experimental developments have argued that Heisenberg's intuitive explanation of his mathematical result is misleading. While the act of measurement does lead to uncertainty, the loss of precision is less than that predicted by Heisenberg's argument when measured at the level of an individual state. The formal mathematical result remains valid, however, and the original intuitive argument has also been vindicated mathematically when the notion of disturbance is expanded to be independent of any specific state.Heisenberg cut
In quantum mechanics, a Heisenberg cut is the hypothetical interface between quantum events and an observer's information, knowledge, or conscious awareness. Below the cut everything is governed by the wave function; above the cut a classical description is used. The Heisenberg cut is a theoretical construct; it is not known whether actual Heisenberg cuts exist, where they might be found, or how they could be detected experimentally. However, the concept is useful for analysis.The cut is named after Werner Heisenberg's work on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics in which it is associated with wave function collapse. Interpretations of quantum mechanics that do not recognise wave function collapse (such as De Broglie–Bohm or many-worlds interpretations) do not require Heisenberg cuts.
Heisenberg stated the concept in many different ways in his work, for one example he wrote: "In this situation it follows automatically that, in a mathematical treatment of the process, a dividing line must be drawn between, on the one hand, the apparatus which we use as an aid in putting the question and thus, in a way, treat as part of ourselves, and on the other hand, the physical systems we wish to investigate. The latter we represent mathematically as a wave function. This function, according to quantum theory, consists of a differential equation which determines any future state from the present state of the function... The dividing line between the system to be observed and the measuring apparatus is immediately defined by the nature of the problem but it obviously signifies no discontinuity of the physical process. For this reason there must, within limits, exist complete freedom in choosing the position of the dividing line."Heisenberg limit
In quantum metrology, and especially interferometry, the Heisenberg limit is the optimal rate at which the accuracy of a measurement can scale with the energy used in the measurement. Typically, this is the measurement of a phase (applied to one arm of a beam-splitter) and the energy is given by the number of photons used in an interferometer.
Although some claim to have broken the Heisenberg limit, this reflects disagreement on the definition of the scaling resource. Suitably defined, the Heisenberg limit is a consequence of the basic principles of quantum mechanics and cannot be beaten.Heisenberg model (quantum)
The Heisenberg model is a statistical mechanical model used in the study of critical points and phase transitions of magnetic systems, in which the spins of the magnetic systems are treated quantum mechanically. In the prototypical Ising model, defined on a d-dimensional lattice, at each lattice site, a spin represents a microscopic magnetic dipole to which the magnetic moment is either up or down. Except the coupling between magnetic dipole moments, there is also a multipolar version of Heisenberg model called the multipolar exchange interaction.Heisenberg picture
In physics, the Heisenberg picture (also called the Heisenberg representation) is a formulation (largely due to Werner Heisenberg in 1925) of quantum mechanics in which the operators (observables and others) incorporate a dependency on time, but the state vectors are time-independent, an arbitrary fixed basis rigidly underlying the theory.
It stands in contrast to the Schrödinger picture in which the operators are constant, instead, and the states evolve in time. The two pictures only differ by a basis change with respect to time-dependency, which corresponds to the difference between active and passive transformations. The Heisenberg picture is the formulation of matrix mechanics in an arbitrary basis, in which the Hamiltonian is not necessarily diagonal.
It further serves to define a third, hybrid, picture, the interaction picture.Klara Döpel
Klara (Minna) Renate Döpel (née Mannß; 1900 – 6 April 1945 in Leipzig) was a feminist and a German lawyer until 1933. Then she married the German nuclear physicist Robert Döpel, and they worked together as a team at Leipzig University studying nuclear reactor configurations for the German nuclear energy project. Klara was killed in an air raid near the end of World War II.Kramers–Heisenberg formula
The Kramers–Heisenberg dispersion formula is an expression for the cross section for scattering of a photon by an atomic electron. It was derived before the advent of quantum mechanics by Hendrik Kramers and Werner Heisenberg in 1925, based on the correspondence principle applied to the classical dispersion formula for light. The quantum mechanical derivation was given by Paul Dirac in 1927.The Kramers–Heisenberg formula was an important achievement when it was published, explaining the notion of "negative absorption" (stimulated emission), the Thomas–Reiche–Kuhn sum rule, and inelastic scattering — where the energy of the scattered photon may be larger or smaller than that of the incident photon — thereby anticipating the Raman effect.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.Physics and Beyond
Physics and Beyond (German: Der Teil und das Ganze: Gespräche im Umkreis der Atomphysik) is a book by Werner Heisenberg, the German physicist who discovered the uncertainty principle. It tells, from his point of view, the history of exploring atomic science and quantum mechanics in the first half of the 20th century.
As the subtitle "Encounters and Conversations" suggests, the core part of this book takes the form of discussions between himself and other scientists. Heisenberg says: "I wanted to show that science is done by people, and the most wonderful ideas come from dialog".
With chapters like "The first encounter with the science about atoms", "Quantum mechanics and conversations with Einstein", "Conversation about the relation between biology, physics and chemistry" or "Conversations about language" and "The behavior of an individual during a political disaster", dated 1937-1941, a reader can hear speaking such persons as Erwin Schrödinger, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein or Max Planck, not only about physics, but also about many other questions related to biology, humans, philosophy, and politics.
Not only that, these conversations are often situated in detailed description of the historical atmosphere and a beautiful scenery, as many of them were led in nature during the many journeys they made, backpacking or sailing. "'Do you see whales, Heisenberg?', 'Yes, I see only whales, but I hope they are only big waves.'", is one of humorous scenes when the author, Bohr and other friends were sailing in a dark night.
The book provides a first-hand account about how science is done and how quantum physics, especially the Copenhagen interpretation, emerged.
"Nobody can reproduce these conversations verbatim, but I believe that the spirit of what the people said, and how they did, is conserved," the author tries to explain in the preface.
Many believe that the golden years of physics around 1925, when "even small people could do big things" are gone. But the people who had been there continue to speak to us through this book.
The book was published first in German 1969, in English as Physics and Beyond (1971) and in French in 1972 (La partie et le tout).Robert Döpel
Georg Robert Döpel (3 December 1895 in Neustadt – 2 December 1982 in Ilmenau) was a German experimental nuclear physicist. He was a participant in a group known as the "first Uranverein", which was spawned by a meeting conducted by the Reichserziehungsministerium, in April 1939, to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear reaction. He worked under Werner Heisenberg at the University of Leipzig, and he conducted experiments on spherical layers of uranium oxide surrounded by heavy water. He was a contributor to the German nuclear weapon project (Uranprojekt). In 1945, he was sent to Russia to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project. He returned to Germany in 1957, and he became professor of applied physics and director of the Institut für Angewandte Physik at the Hochschule für Elektrotechnik, now Technische Universität, in Ilmenau (Thuringia).Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen
"Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen" (English "Quantum theoretical re-interpretation of kinematic and mechanical relations") was a breakthrough paper in quantum mechanics written by Werner Heisenberg. It appeared in Zeitschrift für Physik in September 1925.
Heisenberg worked on the paper while recovering from hay fever on the island of Heligoland, corresponding with Wolfgang Pauli on the subject. When asked for his opinion of the manuscript, Pauli responded favorably, but Heisenberg said he was still "very uncertain about it". In July 1925, he sent the paper to Max Born to review and decide whether to submit it for publication.In the paper, Heisenberg tried to explain the energy levels of a one-dimensional anharmonic oscillator, avoiding the concrete but unobservable representations of electron orbits by using observable parameters such as transition probabilities for quantum jumps, which necessitated using two indexes corresponding to the initial and final states.Also included was the Heisenberg commutator, his law of multiplication needed to describe certain properties of atoms, whereby the product of two physical quantities did not commute. Therefore, PQ would differ from QP where, for example, ‘P’ was an electron's momentum and ‘Q’ its position. Paul Dirac, who had received a proof copy in August 1925, realized that the commutative law had not been fully developed and would produce an algebraic formulation to express the same results in more logical form.