Great Engineers & Scientists Blog

Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

Posted April 24, 2006 4:30 PM
Pathfinder Tags: April 23 October 4

Roger Pink writes:
Max Planck was born in Kiel, Germany in 1858, the son of Julius Wilhelm and Emma Planck. Julius Wilhelm was a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Kiel. Julius Wilhelm's father was also a professor, as well as his father before him. At the age of 16, Max Planck entered the University of Munich, where he studied Physics. Planck also studied at the University of Berlin. Planck's teachers included such notable scientists as Kirchoff and Helmholtz. In 1879, at the age of 21, Planck received his Ph. D. His thesis was about the second law of thermodynamics. Planck taught at the University of Munich from 1880 to 1885, then at the University of Kiel until 1889, and finally became a Professor at the University of Berlin in 1889, where he would stay for 39 years until retiring in 1927. After retirement, Planck became President of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Promotion of Science until 1937.

Planck is most famous for his part in the development of what has come to be called quantum mechanics. In the late 1800s, experimental observations on the wavelength distribution of the energy emitted by a black body as a function of temperature did not agree with the predictions of classical physics. Planck deduced the relationship between the energy and frequency of radiation, E=hv, which indicated that radiation can only exist in discrete quantities or "quanta". The energy for a resonator of frequency v is hv where h is a universal constant, now called Planck's constant. When this work was published in 1900, it was highly controversial and took many years to be accepted. In 1918, Max Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this work.

Planck was married twice and had 5 children in all. Planck's first son died in World War I. Two daughters died while still young, soon after the war. Another son was executed for complicity in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The remaining son survived him. Max Planck was died at Gottingen on October 4, 1947 at the age of 89.

Resources:

http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1918/planc k-lecture.html (Nobel Lecture)
http://nobelprize.org/physics/laureates/1918/planc k-bio.html (biography)
http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Pl-Pr/Planck-Max .html (biography)

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