Max Born

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Born, Max,

1882–1970, British physicist, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1907. He was head of the physics department at the Univ. of Göttingen from 1921 to 1933. When Nazi policies forced him to leave Germany, he went to England; he was a lecturer at Cambridge, then became (1936) a professor of natural philosophy at the Univ. of Edinburgh. Born was made a British citizen in 1939. In 1953 he retired to West Germany. Known for his research in quantum mechanics, he shared the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics with Walter BotheBothe, Walther Wilhelm Georg,
1891–1957, German physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Berlin, 1923. Bothe was a researcher at the Reich Physical and Technical Institute (1913–30) and a professor at Heidelberg (1930–57).
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. Born's writings include Problems of Atomic Dynamics (1926, tr. 1960).


See his autobiography, My Life and My Views (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Born, Max


Born Dec. 11, 1882, in Breslau, now Wroclaw; died Jan. 5, 1970, in Góttingen. German physicist; one of the founders of quantum mechanics.

Born studied from 1900 to 1907 at the Universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Zurich, and Góttingen. From 1907 to 1908 he worked in the laboratories of J. Larmor and J. J. Thomson in Cambridge. In 1908 he worked with G. Minkovskii. In 1909, Born was assistant professor at the University of Góttingen; from 1909 to 1910, a coworker of A. A. Michelson in Chicago; in 1919, staff professor at the University of Frankfurt am Main; and from 1921 to 1933, professor at the University of Góttingen. After the establishment of the fascist regime in Germany, he emigrated (1933) to England, where he occupied the chair of theoretical physics in Cambridge and, beginning in 1936, in Edinburgh. In 1953 he retired, returned to his own country, and settled in Bad Pyrmont, near Góttingen (Federal Republic of Germany).

Bora’s major works included the development of the quantum ideas of Einstein as applied to problems of solid bodies and atomic structure; and the formulation (together with W. Heisenberg and P. Jordan) of a mathematical theory of quantum processes—quantum (matrix) mechanics—and the substantiation of its statistical treatment.

Many of Born’s studies are devoted to the theory of relativity. From 1913 to 1915, together with M. Laue, Born formulated the dynamic theory of the crystal lattice; in 1919 he established the important thermodynamic concept of lattice energy, on the basis of which he was able to compute many physical and chemical constants. Bora indicated a method for computing the electron shells of an atom and proposed and worked out (1926) an approximate method for a theory of collisions of microparticles. This method bears his name. In 1926, together with N. Wiener, Born introduced the concept of the operator into quantum mechanics.

Many famous scientists from all over the world, including Soviet scientists, participated in Born’s theoretical seminar in Góttingen. Born published nearly 350 scientific works, including 20 scientific and popular-scientific books. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954 for his outstanding contributions to the development of quantum mechanics. Born was a member of many foreign academies; in 1934 he became a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

As a scientist, Born characterized the striving for a philosophical understanding of the new stage in the progress of physics. He defended the idea of a close interconnection between physical theory and experimentation; he rejected the dogmatic and a priori approach to the formulation of physical ideas and theories; and he criticized the positivist interpretation of physical theories. Born defended the notion of the presence outside of us of a “physical reality” that is reflected in physical theories in the form of invariants; he defended the existence in nature of a new type of cause-and-effect relationship: an association by contiguousness, including chance within itself. However, Born opposed these views (“realism”) to materialism because he felt that they were worked out independently by contemporary physics on the basis of the analysis of new discoveries (the theories of relativity and of quantum mechanics), which classical materialism could not take into account.

Born was an active fighter for peace. He participated in the first Pugwash conferences and was one of the sponsors of the Góttingen Declaration of German scientists who refused to participate in nuclear research that was directed at military objectives. Born repeatedly protested, both in print and in public appearances, against the nuclear armament of the Bundeswehr, against the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and against the introduction of emergency laws in the Federal Republic of Germany (1968).


In Russian translation:
Stroenie materii: Tri stat’i po sovremennoi atomistike i elektronnoi teorii. Petrograd, 1922.
Khimicheskaia sviaz’ i kvantovaia mekhanika. Kharkov, 1932.
Lektsii po atomnoi mekhanike, vol. 1. Kharkov-Kiev, 1934.
Sovremennaia fizika, 2nd revised ed. Leningrad-Moscow, 1935.
Atomnaia fizika. Moscow, 1965.
Optika: Uchebnik elektromagnitnoi teorii sveta. Kharkov-Kiev, 1937.
Teoriia tverdogo tela . . . : Dinamika kristallicheskoi reshetki. Leningrad-Moscow, 1938. (With M. Geppert-Maier.)
Fizika v zhizni moego pokoleniia. Moscow, 1963.
Einshteinovskaia teoriia otnositeinosti. Moscow, 1964.
A number of articles in the journal Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk. (See Indexes of Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk.)


Suvorov, S. G. “Maks Born i ego filosofskie vzgliady.” In the collection by M. Born, Fizika v zhizni moego pokoleniia. Moscow, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
He was especially unhappy with its description of reality in terms of probabilities, a view developed by the German physicist Max Born. Einstein preferred the deterministic cause-and-effect rigor of classical physics, expressing his displeasure by saying "God does not play dice." But Einstein's views on quantum mechanics are often oversimplified For observable phenomena, he accepted the statistical view of quantum mechanics; his main concern was its incompleteness (in his view) in describing reality.
In 1926, German physicist Max Born proposed that only particle pairs--not triplets, quadruplets or more--can interfere, causing their wavelike forms to boost and diminish one another.
Physicist Max Born was both a committed pacifist and a teacher to several of the men who built the first atomic bomb.
The fast moves also leave in the dust the current theory of how such transfers take place, he and his FOM colleague Sander Woutersen, now at the Max Born Institute in Berlin, conclude in the Dec.
In 1927, physicists Max Born and Werner Heisenberg declared, "Quantum mechanics is a complete theory; its basic physical and mathematical hypotheses are not further susceptible to modification." Since quantum mechanics is the theory that describes the behavior of fundamental particles, its synthesis was indeed a "victory over the unruly atom." But other physicists immediately dis-puted this conclusion.
Whoever really understands classical mechanics knows how to transcend Zeno's paradox; whoever thinks of quantum mechanics in the spirit of Neils Bohr or Max Born is not troubled by the paradox that so worried Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen.