In this moving and eloquent portrait, John Heilbron describes how the founder of quantum theory rose to the pinnacle of German science. With great understanding, he shows how Max Planck suffered morally and intellectually as his lifelong habit of service to his country and to physics was confronted by the realities of World War I and the brutalities of the Third Reich.
In an afterword written for this edition, Heilbron weighs the recurring questions among historians and scientists about the costs to others, and to Planck himself, of the painful choices he faced in attempting to build an “ark” to carry science and scientists through the storms of Nazism.
An important book to which all students of science as a human institution should be referred… This story of a fruitful but ultimately tragic life is extremely well told and needs to be more widely known.
Heilbron gives a very readable, and very balanced, account of the successes and disasters of this great physicist, without attempting to pass judgment. But the character of the man comes clearly through the narrative.
A fascinating account of the life of one of the founders of modern physics. [Heilbron] takes every opportunity to draw parallels between the evolution of science and the social upheavals which accompanied the process.
The Dilemmas of an Upright Man is a reissue of the life of Max Planck… Hollywood would title it Triumph and Tragedy. Planck’s quantum theory transformed physics, but his career period was rocked by two world wars. He stayed in Nazi Germany throughout… Although he could have escaped, he wouldn’t leave. Some contemporaries found his obduracy hard to understand.
- 272 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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