Max Planck – German physicist
Max Planck was a German physicist, best known as one of the founders of the quantum theory of physics. Planck also made important contributions in the fields of thermodynamics, relativity, and the philosophy of science. He was awarded the 1918 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of the quantum effect.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was born on April 23, 1858 in Kiel, Germany. His parents were Johann Julius Wilhelm von Planck and Emma Patzig. Max was their fourth child. Max began school in Kiel, but at the age of nine his family moved to Münich. There he attended the Königliche Maximillian Gymnasium which he graduated in 1874. In the same year he entered the University of Münich. In 1875 Planck fell seriously ill. After a long period of recovery, he transferred to the University of Berlin for two semesters in 1877 and 1878. In Berlin he studied under a number of notable physicists, including Hermann Helmholtz and Gustav Kirchhoff. In 1878 he returned to Münich and his studies.
After graduation he briefly worked at the Maximillian Gymnasium as a teacher. Then he devoted his efforts full time to preparing for his doctoral dissertation.
Between 1880 and 1892, Planck carried out a systematic study of thermodynamic principles.
In 1885, he received his first university appointment as extraordinary professor at the University of Kiel.
Max married Marie Merck. They had three children.
Planck’s constant has become as important to the investigation of particles of matter as to quanta of light, now called photons.
In 1918 Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.
In 1959, Max published his book Philosophy of Physics. Some of his thoughts on the correlation of science, art, and religion are presented in his 1935 book, Die Physik im Kampf um die Weltanschauung.
Max Planck died in 1947 at the age of 89.