Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Max Planck Formulates Quantum Theory

Max Planck Formulates Quantum Theory In 1900, German theoretical physicist Max Planck revolutionized the field of physics by discovering that energy does not flow evenly but is instead released in discrete packets. Planck created an equation to predict this phenomenon, and his discovery ended the primacy of what  many people now call classical physics in favor of the study of quantum physics. The Problem Despite feeling that all was already known in the field of physics, there was still one problem that had plagued physicists for decades: They could not understand the surprising results they continued to get from heating surfaces that absorb all frequencies of light that hit them, otherwise known as black bodies. Try as they might, scientists could not explain the results using classical physics. The Solution Max Planck was born in Kiel, Germany, on April 23, 1858, and was considering becoming a professional pianist before a teacher turned his attention to science. Planck went on to receive degrees from the University of Berlin and the University of Munich. After spending four years as an associate professor of theoretical physics at Kiel University, Planck moved to the University of Berlin, where he became a full professor in 1892. Plancks passion was thermodynamics. While researching black-body radiation, he too kept running into the same problem as other scientists. Classical physics could not explain the results he was finding. In 1900, 42-year-old  Planck discovered an equation that explained the results of these tests: ENhf, with Eenergy, Ninteger, hconstant, ffrequency. In determining this equation, Planck came up with the constant (h), which is now known as Plancks constant. The  amazing part of Plancks discovery was that energy, which appears to be emitted in wavelengths, is actually discharged in small packets he called quanta. This new theory of energy revolutionized physics and opened the way for Albert Einsteins theory of relativity. Life After Discovery At first, the magnitude of Plancks discovery was not fully understood. It wasnt until Einstein and others used quantum theory for even further advancements in physics that the revolutionary nature of his discovery was realized. By 1918, the scientific community was well aware of the  importance of Plancks work and awarded him  the Nobel Prize in Physics. He continued to conduct research and contribute further to the advancement of physics, but nothing compared to his 1900 findings. Tragedy in His Personal Life While he achieved much in his professional life, Plancks personal life was marked by tragedy. His first wife died in 1909, his oldest son, Karl, during  World War I. Twin girls,  Margarete and Emma, both later died in childbirth. And his youngest son, Erwin, was implicated in the failed  July Plot to kill Hitler and was hanged. In 1911, Planck did remarry and had one son, Hermann. Planck decided to remain in Germany during World War II. Using his clout, the physicist  tried to stand up for Jewish scientists, but with little success. In protest, Planck resigned as president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in 1937. In 1944, a bomb dropped during an Allied air raid hit his house, destroying many of his possessions, including all his scientific notebooks.   Max Planck died on October 4, 1947, at the age of 89.

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