World’s Super Scientists – Max Planck

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Planck’s constant, quantum theory- his plank for fame – Max Planck

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Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck Scientist(1858-1947), a German physicist born in Kiel, Germany.

Max Planck Scientist is considered to be the founder of quantum theory, one of the important physicists of the 20th century.

Max Planck Scientist graduated early, at age 16. He was extremely gifted in music, played piano, organ and cello, and composed songs and operas. However, instead of music he chose to study physics.

Max Planck Scientist performed experiments on the study of diffusion of hydrogen through heated platinum.

  • In 1877 Max Planck Scientist went to Berlin to study with the famous physicist Hermann Von Helmholtz.
  • In 1880 Max Planck Scientist presented his habilitation thesis on ‘Equilibrium states of isotropic bodies at different temperatures.’
  • 1885 associate professor of theoretical physics, university of Kiel.
  • 1892 professor, university of Berlin.
  • 1894 Black-body radiation

Max Planck Scientist had been commissioned by electric companies to discover how to create the maximum light from light bulbs with the minimum energy.

The colour of an object depends upon its temperature as predicted by Planck’s formula. Debate: how does the intensity of the electromagnetic radiation emitted by a blackbody (a perfect absorber of light) depend on the frequency of the radiation (e.g. the colour of the light) and the temperature of the body? Planck’s black-body radiation law discusses it.

  • The famous Planck black-body radiation law; conforming to the experimentally observed black-body spectrum – observed in 1901.
  • Quantum theory – quantum: a very small packet of electromagnetic energy. Quantum: Energy is not emitted in continuous amounts, but in discrete amounts called quanta.

Electromagnetic energy could be emitted only in quantized form, in other words, the energy could only be a multiple of an elementary unit E = h v, where ‘h’ is Planck’s constant, also known as Planck’s action quantum; and v [Greek alphabet ‘nu’] is the frequency of the radiation.

The full interpretation of the radical implications of Planck’s work was advanced by Albert Einstein in 1905. Einstein, by studying the photoelectric effect, proposed a model and equation whereby light was emitted and also absorbed in quanta / packets or photons.

Thomas Kuhn argued that Einstein should be given credit for quantum theory more so than Planck. However, in recognition of his monumental accomplishment that Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.

The two scientists Einstein and Planck became close friends and met frequently on occasions to play and enjoy music together.

  • During 1909 he was the Ernest Kempton Adams Lecturer in Theoretical Physics at Columbia University in New York City.

In the turbulent post-world war I years Planck, the highest authority of German physics issued the slogan “Persevere and continue working” to his colleagues.

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.

  • In 1938, at his age of 80, his famous talk on ‘Religion and Science’. Five years later, i.e. at his age of 85 he was still sufficiently fit to climb 3,000 – meter peaks in the Alps.
  • In February 1944 his home in Berlin was destroyed by an air-raid, annihilating his entire scientific records and correspondence; Allied armies made rapid advance while he was in a rural retreat.
  • In 1945 Erwin’s (his wife’s) death destroyed Planck’s will to live. ‘No wife-no life’. He endured other personal tragedies, too. He died in 1947 in Gottingen.

Honours and Medals
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  • Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918 (awarded 1919)
  • Max Planck medal (1929, together with Einstein)
  • The   asteroid   1069  was  given  the   name “Stella Planckia” (1938) after Planck
  • Planck (crater) named after him
  • Planck’s constant
  • Planck units
  • Planck time
  • Planck particle, to mention some. Tailpiece

Here is a German who witnessed the horror of the two World Wars I and II.

Gist of his name

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck is really Max Karl earnest Ludwig Planck.

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