WERNER HEISENBERG (1901 - 1976) was one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century. He is best known as a founder of quantum mechanics, the new physics of the atomic world, and especially for the uncertainty principle in quantum theory. He is also known for his controversial role as a leader of Germany's nuclear fission research during World War II. After the war he was active in elementary particle physics and West German science policy. (Werner Heisenburg Exhibit)
Werner Heisenberg “The Story Behind The Man”
What Made The Man… Early Life Educational Background Impact On Our Lives Time When He Lived
Life Growing Up Born December 1901 in the city of Würzburg in the southern German state of Bavaria.(Cassidy) The second child of Dr. August Heisenberg and Anna (Annie) Heisenberg At home his father, a teacher, encouraged constant competition with his older brother. (Cassidy) He excelled in Math & Science growing up.
Heisenberg entered the Maximilians-Gymnasium in Munich in September 1911. (Cassidy) A Gymnasium was a nine-year school that prepared students to enter a university before going on to professional careers, such as medicine, law, or academics. (Cassidy) At the Masimilians-Gymnasium he found his interest with math and physics He wasn’t just interested science he also studied classical piano.
Education Heisenberg entered the University of Munich in the fall of 1920. He had planned to study pure mathematics, but after a disconcerting interview with one of the math professors, Heisenberg turned to theoretical physics. (Cassidy, Student Years: 1920 – 1927) Following physics principles according to the “old quantum theory” and realized it was incorrect so he sought out to fix it.
Heisenberg received a III, equivalent to a C, in physics and for the overall grade for his doctorate. (Cassidy, Student Years: 1920 – 1927) He received an A from one professor, Sommerfeld , and a F from the other one, Wien. His disortation was well written but when reviewed by examining committee he stumbled on questions about astronomy and experimental physics. If Heisenberg was going to survive at all in physics it would be only as a theorist. (Cassidy, Student Years: 1920 – 1927)
Impact of Heisenberg The leading theory of the atom when Heisenberg entered the University of Munich in 1920 was the quantum theory of Bohr, Sommerfeld, and their co-workers. Although the theory had been highly successful in certain situations, during the early 1920s three areas of research indicated that this theory was inadequate and would need to be replaced. (Cassidy, Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927) Heisenberg decided that he was going to be the one to find the new quantum mechanics theory. Einstein, however, objected to Heisenberg's approach in which the new theory was based only on observable quantities. (Cassidy, Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927)
Born finally recognized that the unfamiliar mathematics was related to the mathematics of arrays of numbers known as "matrices." Born sent Heisenberg's paper off for publication. It was the breakthrough to quantum mechanics. Most physicists were slow to accept "matrix mechanics" because of its abstract nature and its unfamiliar mathematics. (Cassidy, Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927) Instead they accepted wave mechanics by a man named Schrodinger because it was more mathematical and didn’t involve “uncertainties”.
Schrodinger looked at matrix mechanics and proved that it was the same as wave mechanics. Even though they were the same he thought that wave mechanics was better. This outraged Heisenberg who's mind was made up on discontinuous quantum jumps then a continuous wave. After they were both reviewed by Jordan in Göttingen and Paul Dirac in Cambridge, England they used them both as the foundation of quantum mechanics today.
The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. --Heisenberg, uncertainty paper, 1927 Heisenberg discovered this while going over basic physical variables in equations. He said that these “uncertainties” were not something the experimenter did but they were natural in quantum mechanics its self. Heisenberg presented to the world for the first time what became known as the uncertainty principle in February 1927. (Cassidy, Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927)
Historical Events during Heisenberg's Life World War I World War II
Bibliography Cassidy, D. (n.d.). Student Years: 1920 - 1927. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p08.htm Cassidy, D. (n.d.). Quantum Mechanics 1925-1927. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p07.htm Cassidy, D. (n.d.). Student Years: 1920 - 1927. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p06.htm Cassidy, D. (n.d.). Student Years: 1920 - 1927. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p05.htm Cassidy, D. (n.d.). The Early Years: 1901-1920. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p02.htm Cassidy, D. (n.d.). The Early Years: 1901-1920. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p03.htm Pictures Werner Heisenburg Exhibit. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2010, from American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p01.htm