Max Planck

April 23, 1858 - October 4, 1947


Election Year: 1926
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Physicist Max Planck is considered the “father of quantum mechanics.” He defined the pattern of light intensity emitted from a blackbody (a perfect absorber of radiant energy) at any given frequency as the “quantum of action,” which is now referred to as Planck’s constant h. This showed that energy is not continuous, as classical Newtonian physics assumes, but delivered in discrete packets of energy that Planck called quanta. Therefore the energy of each quantum can be measured using Planck’s constant and the frequency of radiation. This idea revolutionized the scientific view of the physical world because it explained a function of light and energy that classical physics could not. In 1918 Planck won the Nobel Prize in Physics “in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta."

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