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Phillip Wittke!

PHYS 1010!
Scientist Essay!
April 2, 2015!


Maxwell Ludwig Planck: !

Life and Contributions to Science!
By Phillip Wittke!


Image from: Wikimedia Commons !

Dr. Maxwell Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck!

Personal History:!

My original decision to devote myself to science was a direct result of the

discovery which has never ceased to fill me with enthusiasm since my early
youththe comprehension of the far from obvious fact that the laws of human

reasoning coincide with the laws governing the sequences of the impressions we
receive from the world about usIn this connection, it is of paramount importance that the outside world is something absolute, and the quest for the laws
which apply to this absolute appeared to me as the most sublime scientific pursuit in life. - Max Planck (Planck, 1)!

Maxwell Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was born in Kiel, Schelswig, (now Germany) on April 23, 1858. From early in his life Max Planck was heavily influenced
to unconditionally respect and follow his religion and the laws of his country.
(Shuman) However, due to his own intellectual pursuits, Max Planck would later
come to question many aspects of his beliefs; including religion, the integrity of
the government, and the classical ideas of physics that, at one time, he had been
so firmly rooted in. In fact, it took a relatively long time for Max Planck to accept
the implications of his own discoveries, compared to other great physicist with

whom he worked. (Cropper) Some have even referred to him as a reluctant revolutionary.!
Throughout his life, Max
Planck, was awarded many honors. He worked with and influenced many of the great physicists at the time, including Albert
Einstein, who helped convince
Planck to present his discoveries,

Image from: URL:

even though Max Planck himself had not fully

accepted them. (Cropper) In his later years, tragedy would fall upon Max Planck several
times, due to the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany, and several other unfortunate circumstances, including the death of most of his children and first wife. (Stuewer) Despite
these troubles, Maxwell Planck continued his work with the Kaiser Wilhelm Society of
Berlin (renamed the Max Planck Society in his honor,) where he became president,
until his death on October 4th, 1947. (Shuman)!
Max Plancks respect for his country and religion may be contributed to the fact
his father was a professor of civil law in Kiel, Germany as well as the influence of clergymen, who he spent a good amount of time around in his youth. Max Planck was very
interested in music and the arts, however, after being enrolled in Munichs Knigliche
Maximilian-Gymnasium, in 1867, Max Planck became increasingly interested in mathematics and physics. In 1874, he began focusing on mathematics at the University of
Munich, however, due to illness, his scholarly endeavors were postponed for two years.

He finally returned to continue his intellectual career in 1877, when he enrolled in the
University of Berlin to study theoretical physics under three influential physicist, who
helped Max Planck fulfill his desire to learn about the nature of the universe. Those
physicists were: Hermann von Helmholtz, Gustav Kirchhoff, and Rudolf Clausius. !
These professors helped to influence Planck to become more interested in thermodynamics, and Rudolf Clausius especially influenced him as he taught of and developed the theory of entropy, what Max Planck would consider the next most important
subject in physics next to energy. (Planck) Although, it has been known that Planck
found Helmoltzs lectures to be ill-prepared and thought he looked as bored with teaching the subject as the students were learning about it, and Kirchoff to be dry and monotonous. (Cropper) Max Planck still became more interested in learning about the nature of the universe.!
In 1909, Planck suffered from the first of several tragedies that he faced in his
life, with the death of his first wife. The next tragedy he faced occurred when his first
son died, then a few years later one of his twin daughters died while giving birth. If this
wasnt bad enough, a few years after, the other twin also died during child birth. Things
only became increasingly difficult as time went on and with the beginning of World War
II. Max Planck decided to remain in Germany, and openly opposed the Nazi regime. He
even held a meeting with Hitler to try and dissuade his persecution of the Jewish population but, obviously, to no avail. Later Max Plancks second son was executed for conspiring against and attempting to assassinate Hitler in 1944. ( Surviving
two bombings, one destroying his home and his library of papers and notes, Max Planck
remained in Germany as the president of the Kaiser Willhelm Society for the Promotion

of Science, (later renamed the Max Planck Society,) for several years. (Stuewer) Maxwell Planck died at the age of 89 on October 4, 1947 in Gttingen, West Germany (now

Contributions to Science:!
When you change the way you look at things, !
the things you look at change. -Max Planck (Planck)!

Max Planck began his scientific pursuit searching for something

absolute. (Planck) To me this is somewhat ironic for the fact that it took Maxwell
Planck himself quite a long time to accept his own contributions to science as
absolute. What he discovered was an equation that would bring about the Quantum
Theory, and inspire many other great discoveries. In 1879, Max Planck graduated with
honors from the University of Berlin, and in 1880 began teaching at the University of
Munich. He later taught at the University of Kiel before becoming the director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics, replacing his former professor, Gustav Kirchhoff in 1892,
he remained here until he retired in 1926. (Shuman) By this time he had developed
many of his ideas on thermodynamics and developed and equation to explain the relationship between frequency and energy. The equation he found was E=hv, with (h) as
Plancks constant. (Cropper) Which can be easier explained by the image below.!
Unknown to Planck at the
time he discovered it, this equation
would change physics forever.

*Image from:


After some convincing from his peers, including Albert Einstein, who was among the first
to see the implications of Max Plancks newly discovered constant, and used Plancks
ideas to help create some of his own theories that made him famous; Max Planck finally
submitted his work and received the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of energy
quanta, in 1918. ( !
The heuristic nature of Maxwell Plancks theories on light radiation, from which
the energy quanta came about, can be directly observed in Einsteins publication, On a
Heuristic Point of View about the Creation and Conversion of Light. This paper was
among the first to explain how Plancks equation describing the relationship between
frequency and energy, could mean that energy waves may not be continuous, as was
previously thought, and could be quantized, or made up of many finite particles. (Einstein) Although Planck was a firm believer in continuous waves, he would not be able to
dispute his own equation. !



Image from:!


Works Cited:!

Cropper, William H. Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from !
Galileo to Hawking. Oxford University Press. 2004. Book. 3/01/2015.!

! Max Planck - Biographical" Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 03/20/15 !

Stuewer, H. Roger. Max Planck: German Physicist. Encyclopedia Britannica. (2015). !

Web. 03/25/2015!

Shuman, R. Baird. "Max Planck." Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia (2013). Web.

Planck, Max. Scientific Autobiography: and Other Papers. Philosophical Library Inc. !
(1949). Open Road Media. web. 3/11/2015!


1. Wikimedia Commons !
2. Tesla society.Com !