Biography of Max Karl Planck (1858-1947)

Max Planck.

German physicist born on April 23, 1858 in Kiel, and died on October 3, 1947 in Göttingen. It is considered to be the founder of quantum physics. He/She received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918 for his fundamental contributions to physics.

Planck studied at the universities of Munich and Berlin, where he/she had as teachers Kirchoff and Helmholtz, other great physicists of the time. He/She worked as a teacher first in Munich, then in Kiel and, later, in Berlin, until 1926, year in which retired.

In 1900 he/she published his solution to the problem of radiation from a black body, solution that is based on the idea that the energy emitted by an atom or molecule cannot take any value of a continuous set of values, but only a few specific values. This means that the atoms or molecules emit energy in a staggered fashion, i.e. do not emit a continuous flow but fragments, discrete quantities, which Planck called few, rations or power packs.

This was not only the most important work of Planck, but one of the most important in the history of physics, since it gave rise to all a new branch which was able to explain many phenomena that could not be explained with the classical physics. Einstein was based on the ideas of Planck to be able to explain the photoelectric effect, the capacity that has the light of certain wavelength to pull electrons from the surface of some metals.

Planck was respected by his colleagues not only for their very important contribution to physics but also for their personal qualities. During the nazi Government of Germany considered that it was its duty remain in their country, despite facing many problems due to their opposition to the policy that Hitler was carrying out, in particular with regard to the Jews, who suffered terribly because of the ascension to power of the nazis.

In the last weeks of the war, his house was destroyed during a bombardment, and a year earlier, one of his sons had been executed for taking part in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler.

Planck, as well as one of the most important physicists of the last century, was an expert pianist and said that it considered seriously devote himself to music as a career.

He died at Göttingen shortly after finished the World War II, on October 3, 1947.

The problem of black body radiation

Planck was the first to solve the problem of black body radiation. The problem of black body radiation was a problem that had occupied physicists throughout century XIX and that not had been able to be resolved by applying what he/she knew of Physics in those days.

Planck solved this problem because it was the first to use a completely new idea, according to which bodies do not emit and absorb any amount of energy but only a certain amount of multiples of a fundamental power. I.e. According to this idea the energy not absorbed and emitted as a fragmented but continuous flow. These fragments or power packs, Planck called them few.

Black body radiation

Bodies emit energy by the mere fact of being at a certain temperature. A body to 500 ° C will emit more energy than another that is at 30 ° C. The energy emitted due to its temperature, if the temperature is sufficiently high, can be seen in the form of light (as in the case of the Sun or an iron bar red hot), but normally not we can perceive it in any way because we do not have meanings that are sensitive to it. For example, the human body emits energy to be between 36 and 37 ° C but does so in a range of colours that our eyes can not perceive.

Colors that usually we perceive objects are due in the immense most of the cases the light receiving light, like the Sun or a light bulb source, and reflecting. When the energy that emits a body is due solely to its temperature, not because it reflects which comes from other bodies, then is said that it is a black body.

The energy emitted by a black body is not of a single color, but there is always one predominantly (for example, in the case of the Sun is yellow; when see you orange or red at dawn or at dusk is due to the Earth's atmosphere).

I.e., the energy emitted by a black body is divided into different < note i.e. at different wavelengths > colors < /NOTA >. The set of all possible colors is called spectrum and one of the main problems of the physics of the s. XIX was to determine how energy which emitted black bodies in the range of colors of the spectrum was distributed: that is, how much energy played you each color.

Great physicists of that time had obtained erroneous solutions to apply what they knew of physics to this problem.

Planck addressed it in a completely new way and knew how to find the right solution, from which one could predict how much energy radiated a body depending on its temperature and in what color emitted more energy.

In the same way that the chemist Dalton had proposed that any material object which we perceive with our senses was actually a grouping of tiny particles, Planck proposed that power could only be absorbed or shared by atoms in a staggered fashion, i.e. in non-continuous and discrete quantities. The minimum amount of energy that could be absorbed or ceded it called much of energy-a how much of energy is a power pack that exchanges one atom with another, for example, or an Atom with its surroundings. These packages are tiny amounts of energy, and it is only due to that there are many atoms exchanging many packages at the same time by giving us the impression that the light of day, for example, is a continuous stream of energy.

Planck came up with this idea influenced by his friend Boltzmann and after many years of study dedicated to the exchange of energy between bodies.