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*Max BORN (b. Dec. 11, 1882, Breslau, now Wroclaw in Poland; d. Jan. 5, 1970, Göttingen, Germany) German-British physicist. Born was the son of an embryologist, a professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau.

He was educated at the universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Zurich and Göttingen, where he obtained his PhD in 1907.

From 1909 until 1933 he taught at Göttingen, being appointed professor of physics in 1921. With the rise of Hitler he moved to Britain, and from 1936 served as professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and became British subject in 1939. He returned to Germany on his retirement in 1953.

Born`s early work was on crystals, particularly the vibrations of atoms in crystal lattices. The Born-Haber cycle is a theoretical cycle of reactions and changes by which it is possible to calculate the lattice energy of ionic crystals.

He is noted for his role in the development of the new quantum theory. Together with Pasqual Jordan, he developed (1925) the matrix mechanics introduced by Werner Heisenberg. (q.v.). He also showed how to interpret the theoretical results of Louis de Broglie and the experiments of such people as Clinton J. Davisson, which showed that particles have wavelike behavior. At the time, it was known that in some circumstances light, electrons, etc., behaved as waves whereas in others they acted like particles. (Wiliam Bragg once suggested using the corpuscular (particle) theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the undulatory (wave) theory on Thuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.) Mathematical treatments could be used to predict behavior, but there was a problem in finding some accepted physical picture of how electrons, for instance, could act in this way.

Erwin Schrödinger, who developed wave mechanics, interpreted particles as ``wave packets", but this was unsatisfacory because such packets would dissipate in time. Born`s interpretation was that the particles exist but are "guided" by a wave. At any point, the amplitude (actually the square of the amplitude) indicates the probability of finding a particle there. An essential part of this idea of electrons, atoms, etc., is that it depends on probability - there is no predetermined way in which absolute predictions can be made, as in classical physics. A similar result is embodied in the uncertainty principle of Werner Heisenberg. Einstein, amongst others, could never eccept this and Born corresponded with him on the subject (the Born-Einstein letters were published in 1971).

Born shared (with Walter Bothe) the 1954 Nobel Prize for physics. He is buried in Göttingen, where his tombstone displays his fundamental equation of matrix mechanics:


Wroclaw, 24--27 September 1997 -- X-th Symposium

Quantum Future

Director: A. Jadczyk
Karpacz, 24--28 September 1996 -- IX-th Symposium

New Symmetries in the Fundamental Interactions Theories

Director: Z. Hasiewicz, J. Lukierski, Z. Popowicz, M. Mozrzymas
Karpacz, 13--15 October 1995 -- VII-th Symposium

Critical Phenomena in Strongly Interacting Matter

Director: K. Redlich, L. Turko (unpublished)
Kudowa, 21--24 September 1995 -- VI-th Symposium

The Nature of Crystalline States

Director: J. Jedrzejewski Special issue of Physica A Elsevier
Kudowa, 1--4 June 1994 -- V-th Symposium

Diffusion Processes: Experiment, Theory, Simulations

Director: A. Pekalski Lecture Notes in Physics, Eds. A.Pekalski, Vol. 438 (1994) pp. 312, Springer--Verlag
Karpacz, 28--30 September 1993 -- IV-th Symposium

Solid State Physics I

Director: Z.M. Galasiewicz (unpublished)
Sobotka Castle, 15--17 September 1993 -- III-rd Symposium

Stochasticity and Quantum Chaos

Director: Z. Haba, Eds. Z. Haba, W. Cegla, L. Jakobczyk Mathematics and Its Applications, Vol. 317 (1995) pp. 226, Kluwer Academic Publishers
Sobotka Castle, 24--27 September 1992 -- II-nd Symposium

Spinors, Twistors, Clifford Algebras and Quantum Deformations

Director: Z. Oziewicz, Eds. Z. Oziewicz, B. Jancewicz and A. Borowiec Fundamental Theories of Physics, Vol. 52 (1993) pp. 430, Kluwer Academic Publishers
Wojnowice Castle, 27--29 September 1991 -- I-st Symposium

Quantum Group and Related Topics

Director: J. Lukierski, Eds. R. Gielerak J. Lukierski and Z. Popowicz Mathematical Physics Studies, Vol. 13 (1992) pp. 276, Kluwer Academic Publishers

Last modified on: July 13, 2004.

Last modified on: June 27, 2005.