Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War

Hardcover | June 15, 2015

byBrandon R. Brown

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Planck's Law, an equation used by physicists to determine the radiation leaking from any object in the universe, was described by Albert Einstein as "the basis of all twentieth-century physics." Max Planck is credited with being the father of quantum theory, and his work laid the foundationfor our modern understanding of matter and energetic processes. But Planck's story is not well known, especially in the United States. A German physicist working during the first half of the twentieth century, his library, personal journals, notebooks, and letters were all destroyed with his home inWorld War II. What remains, other than his contributions to science, are handwritten letters in German shorthand, and tributes from other scientists of the time, including his close friend Albert Einstein.In Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War, Brandon R. Brown interweaves the voices and writings of Planck, his family, and his contemporaries - with many passages appearing in English for the first time - to create a portrait of a groundbreaking physicist working in the midst of war. Planck spentmuch of his adult life grappling with the identity crisis of being an influential German with ideas that ran counter to his government. During the later part of his life, he survived bombings and battlefields, surgeries and blood transfusions, all the while performing his influential work amidst aviolent and crumbling Nazi bureaucracy. When his son was accused of treason related to a bombing, Planck tried to use his standing as a German "national treasure," and wrote direct letters to Hitler to spare his son's life. Brown tells the story of Planck's friendship with the far more outspokenAlbert Einstein, and shows how his work fits within the explosion of technology and science that occurred during his life. The story of a brilliant man living in a dangerous time, Brandon Brown gives Max Planck his rightful place in the history of science, and shows how war-torn Germany deeply impacted his life and work.

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Planck's Law, an equation used by physicists to determine the radiation leaking from any object in the universe, was described by Albert Einstein as "the basis of all twentieth-century physics." Max Planck is credited with being the father of quantum theory, and his work laid the foundationfor our modern understanding of matter and en...

Brandon R. Brown is a Professor of Physics at the University of San Francisco. He completed doctoral training in superconductivity, with postdoctoral work in science communication. His biophysics work on the electric sense of sharks, as covered by NPR and the BBC, has appeared in Nature, The Physical Review, and other research journals...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:June 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190219475

ISBN - 13:9780190219475

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Customer Reviews of Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from History, Science and a Biography It was surprising for me to see that this book, principally a biographical portrait of Max Planck, is composed of chapters whose titles are various periods in the first half of the 1940s, e.g., “January 1944”. However, although these were important times in the life of Planck, events in those years serve as springboards for the author to propel the reader back to various earlier periods and events – both happy and tragic - in this great physicist’s life. The author devotes much space to the turbulent history of twentieth century Germany, as well as to groundbreaking discoveries in physics – discoveries that demarcated the boundary between the classical physics of the nineteenth century (Planck’s realm) and the modern physics of the twentieth (which he unwittingly unleashed). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It became clear to me how difficult it would have been to tease out Planck’s life story – including his philosophy of life as well as his philosophy of science - without incorporating a great deal of contemporary history and cutting edge physics. The author has succeeded admirably in weaving it all together in language accessible to anyone. This book should be particularly enjoyable to science enthusiasts as well as those with a fascination for twentieth century European history.
Date published: 2016-09-16

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface1. October 19442. April 19433. June 19434. October 19435. December 19436. January 19447. February 19448. March 19449. May 194410. June 194411. July 194412. August 194413. November 194414. January 194515. April 194516. May 1945Coda: 1945-1947