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Vita of Max Born
Max Born For his statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics as well as for his lattice theory of cristals Max Born received the Nobelprize in Physics in the year 1954 (together with W. Bothe). His life's work comprises in addition a wealth of ground breaking studies to describe atomic processes in quantum mechanical terms, key contributions towards the development of the formalism of quantum mechanics (together with his pupils W. Heisenberg and P. Jordan) as well as on modern Optics which are documented in “Born und Wolf: Optics”, still a standard textbook even today. The name Max Born represents thus symbolically the research programme of the Max Born Institute which in this sense concentrates on a field between quantum optics, atomic and molecular physics and the physics of condensed matter. The key stations of his life are briefly summarized below:
  • 1882 born in Breslau (now Wroclaw, in Poland)
  • 1888 - 1901 School and High School in Breslau
  • 1901 begin of academic studies in Breslau, among others Mathematics with J. Rosanes and F. London
  • 1902 Heidelberg, early days of his friendship with James Franck
  • 1903 - 1904 Breslau - Zürich - Berlin
  • 1904 Göttingen
    • private assistant with David Hilbert
    • reading special relativity with Hermann Minkowski as well as cristal physics and optics with Waldemar Voigt
    • seminar with Felix Klein and Carl Runge on the theory of elasticity
  • 1906 Ph. D. examination (magna cum laude) with Hilbert, Runge, Voigt and Schwarzschild
  • 1906 research stay in Cambridge, reading physics with J. Larmor and J. J. Thomson
  • 1908 Goettingen - scientific assistant of Minkowski
  • 1909 Habilitation on the relativistic electron
    • first interaction with Einstein
  • 1912 - 1913 work on lattice dynamics
  • 1913 marriage to Hedwig Ehrenberg in Berlin - Gruenau
  • 1914 Call at the university of Berlin to support Max Planck in teaching physics
    • extra ordinarius for theoretical physics, kinetic theory of solids
  • 1918 Call to the University of Frankfurt on the chair of Max von Laue who followed a call to Berlin.
    • first own institute
    • two assistents (one of them being Otto Stern)
  • 1922 Call on a chair in Goettingen simultaneously with James Franck who got a chair in experimental physics
  • 1922 first "Bohr festival" in Goettingen
    • Wolfgang Pauli and Werner Heisenberg are assistents with Max Born
  • 1925 fomulation of the "new" quantum mechanics by Werner Heisenberg
    • probability interpretation of the quantum mechanical description of collisions (Born approximation)
    • work on applications and extensions of quantum mechanics
  • 1933 Loss of his academic affiliations due to the Nazi regime; emigration
  • 1934 - 1935 work at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, teaching on nonlinear elektrodynamics
  • 1936 - 1954 Tait chair in Edinburgh as successor of Charles Galton Darwin
  • 1954 Nobelprize in Physics (statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics)
  • 1954 return to Germany
  • 1955 initiation of the "proclamation of Mainau" (on the dangers of nuclear arms)
  • 1957 Declaration of the "Goettingen Eighteen", an important and influencial protest of eminent scientists against the then considered armament of the German Federal Army with nuclear weapons
  • 1954 - 1970 Bad Pyrmont / Goettingen

A very detailed recent biography of Max Born "The End of a Certain World" has been written by Nancy Thorndike Greenspan. There is also an informative Webpage connected to with this writing http://www.maxborn.net/.

The Max Born Institute cultivates the memory of Max Born. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the bestowal of the Nobelprize on 11th December 2004 a two days Symposium was held at the MBI, during which also Prof. Gustav Born , the son of Max Born, delivered a celebration lecture. Out of this event an attractive Broschure "Max Born - A Celebration" emerged. It can be downloaded here (als pdf 3.2MB). Guests of the MBI are wellcome to receive a printed version from one of the secretarial offices of the MBI.

On 11th December 2007, the 125th birthday of Max Born, again a Symposium in the honor of the renowned physicist took place. It was organized jointly by the Max Born Institute and the Max Planck Institute for the history of science (Berlin). Several members of the Born Family were among the participants: asid of Gustav Born and others also the famous singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, a grand daugther of Max Born. Here some photo impressions.

We are pleased about the steady interest of Gustav Borns in the Max Born Institute. We are particularly grateful to him for letting us have a considerably collection of letters, documents and fotographs from the inheritance of his father. They are now preserved in the Archive of the Max Planck Instituts for the history of science in Berlin. Parts theroff can be seen as facsimiles in a small exhibition in the foyer of house A of the MBI.