Who is Werner Heisenberg?

Who is Werner Heisenberg?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Karl Werner Heisenberg was a German physicist who lived from December 5, 1901 to February 1, 1976 and discovered the Uncertainty Principle, which is named after him.

The German physicist, Werner Karl Heisenberg, is one of the leading figures in the formulation of atomic theory. In summary, he received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932 for his discovery of the uncertainty principle, which states that it is impossible to determine the exact position and acceleration of a particle at the same time. Heisenberg also developed the theory of matrix mechanics. During the Second World War, he was the director of the German atomic bomb project, a post which resulted in his brief post-war imprisonment and the focus of controversy for the remainder of his career.

Werner Heisenberg was born on December 5, 1901, in Würzburg, Germany, to August and Annie Wecklein Heisenberg. He completed his education at Maximillan High School in Munich and later at the University of Munich, where his father was a professor of Greek language and literature. He also worked on a farm for several months, shortly before entering university, and was actively involved in youth movements, seeking a way out of the social collapse that had hit post-World War I Germany.

In addition to his achievements in physics, Heisenberg is also a gifted pianist, an avid hiker, and an avid student of classical literature and philosophy. During his university life in 1920, he had the opportunity to meet Arthur Sommerfeld, one of the main names in modern physics, and Wolfgang Pauli, the most successful student of Sommerfeld, who would later receive the Nobel Prize. He then spent the winter of 1922-1923 at the University of Gettingen, which, with the help of Max Born, James Franck, and David Hilbert, quickly established the physics department as the center of theoretical physics. Heisenberg, who completed his education at the University of Munich in 1923 with a doctorate in physics, went to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark with a Rockefeller scholarship. Here he laid the foundations of his research, which he would perhaps gradually establish himself by focusing on the most innovative and creative discussions on atomic models.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932 for his contributions to the knowledge of atomic structure. He conducted research with Arnold Sommerfeld at the University of Munich, and later worked with famous physicists such as Max Born, David Hilbert and Niels Bohr. In 1941 he tried to persuade Bohr to support Germany in the construction of the atomic bomb, but Bohr rejected the offer for moral reasons.

Heisenberg (in 1925) and Erwin Schrödinger (in 1926) very recently, independently of each other, formulated the quantum (wave) mechanics of the atom differently but equally in terms of mathematics. These theories were expanded and developed by British theoretical physicist Paul Dirac in 1928.

He was appointed to the professorship of physics at the University of Leipzig in 1927, and in the same year he introduced the famous Uncertainty Principle. Heisenberg, who became the director of the current Max Planck Institute in 1941, put forward the formula of the unified field theory, which explains the structure of the fundamental particles inside the atom. Heisenberg also illuminated a subject that no physics knowledge could explain, which belongs to the structure of the atomic nucleus and was named the Meson Field Theory. This phenomenon explained by Heisenberg is as follows: There are protons and neutrons in the nucleus of the atom. Normally, protons cannot coexist because they are positively (+) charged. So how is this possible?

After the war, Heisenberg focused on finding a unified theory in physics. He published this unified theory in 1958. However, it must be said that this theory is not well received by physics circles. Apart from that, he also served as the president of the Alexander von Humboldt Organization, which aims to encourage foreign scientists to come to work in Germany. For the rest of his life, he taught physics and other fields as a visiting professor at universities. He died of kidney failure on February 1, 1976 at the age of 74.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook