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Planck in , 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 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.

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. Planck and Nernst , seeking to clarify the increasing number of contradictions, organized the First Solvay Conference Brussels 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 Soon the two scientists became close friends and met frequently to play music together.

First World War[ edit ] 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 In , 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, only being spared thanks to his Swiss citizenship.

However, in , after several meetings with Dutch physicist, Lorentz , he revoked parts of the Manifesto. In , he signed a declaration against German annexationism. In October , 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. During this time economic conditions in Germany were such that he was hardly able to conduct research.

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". Nernst , A. Einstein , M. Planck, R. Planck expected that wave mechanics would soon render quantum theory—his own child—unnecessary.

This was not to be the case, however. 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.

He witnessed many Jewish friends and colleagues expelled from their positions and humiliated, and hundreds of scientists emigrate 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.

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 others will come and speak against it, because they are eager to take over the positions of the others. Planck tried to discuss the issue with Adolf Hitler but was unsuccessful. In the following year, , Haber died in exile.

One year later, Planck, having been the president of the KWG since , 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 , 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".

At the end of , 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,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 , 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. His rural retreat was threatened by the rapid advance of the Allied armies from both sides.

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. Although he remained in the Lutheran Church, he did not promote Christian or Biblical views.

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. He was a churchwarden from 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! 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. This spirit is the matrix of all matter. 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". 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.

Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft.


Quantum Mechanics by Ernest S. Abers (2003, Hardcover)



Max Planck






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