Werner Heisenberg and the Heisenberg Uncertainty P
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Werner Heisenberg and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Werner Heisenberg, born in the dawn of the twentieth century became one
of its greatest physicists; he is also among its most controversial.
While still in his early twenties, he was among the handful of bright,
young men who created quantum mechanics, the basic physics of the atom,
and he became a leader of nuclear physics and elementary particle
research. He is best known for his uncertainty principle, a component
of the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of the meaning, and uses of
Through his successful life, he lived through two lost World Wars,
Soviet Revolution, military occupation, two republics, political unrest,
and Hitler’s Third Reich. He was not a Nazi, and like most scientists
of his day he tried not to become involved in politics. He played a
prominent role in German nuclear testing during the World War II era.
At age twenty-five he received a full professorship and won the Nobel
Prize in Physics in 1932 at the age of thirty-two. He climbed quickly
to the top of his field beginning at the University of Munich when his
interest in theoretical physics was sparked
Heisenberg was born the son of August Heisenberg in Würzburg, Germany
on December 5, 1901. August Heisenberg was a professor of Greek at the
University of Munich. His grandfather was a middle-class craftsman who’s
hard work paid enough to afford a good education for August Heisenberg.
The successfulness of August Heisenberg allowed him to support his
family well. The professorship at the University of Munich put them in
the upper middle-class elite, and was paid three times the salary of
Through his life Werner Heisenberg was pestered with health problems.
At the age of five, he nearly died with a lung infection which helped
him get a little preferential treatment from his parents. During his
early years, Werner was in constant competition with his brother Erwin
which caused friction. The Heisenberg family were accomplished
musicians. Every evening they would sit and practice together. August
was on the piano, Erwin played the violin, and Werner played the cello.
Their mother insisted that she had no musical talent as an excuse to not
be involved in the male competition. Later Werner also learned the
piano and used his musical talents as a social vehicle during the course
of his life. This manly competition carried out in many other
activities in the house. Sometimes August Heisenberg would make games
out of difficult homework problems that the boys had. Werner once said
when reflecting back on his childhood, "Our father used to play all
kinds of games with [us] …. And since he was a good teacher, he found
that the games could be used for the educating the children. So when my
brother had some mathematical problems in his schoolwork …. he tried to
use these problems as a kind of game and find out who could do them
quickly, and so on. Somehow, I discovered that I could do that kind of
mathematics rather quickly, so from that time on I had a special
interest in mathematics." This constant competition caused many fights
between the brothers. As they grew older the fights became more
vicious. One time the fight became particularly bloody where they beat
each other with wooden chairs. After this confrontation the brothers
called a truce and hardly interacted with each other except for
occasional family get togethers when they were adults.
In school, Werner began to show his amazing ability early on. He
excelled through school and always received complementary remarks from
his teachers. As a result from the competition with his brother he
developed a hard work ethic and a strong drive to succeed. Even though
Werner was not a good runner he would run around the track timing
himself with a stopwatch trying to improve his running times. A teacher
of his once said, "The pupil is also extraordinary, self-confident and
always wants to excel." Werner Heisenberg excelled in math, physics, and
religion in which he consistently received 1’s (the equivalent of A’s).
The subjects that he did not fair as well in were German and Athletics
which he usually received 2’s (or B’s). At the age of thirteen one of
his teachers noted that his interests were moving to more
"physical-technical things". This change in interests moved Heisenberg
along the path from the geometry of objects into the realm of
theoretical physics, especially the mathematical analysis of physical
objects and data. As a pupil at the Gymnasium, he was intrigued by
Einstein’s theory of relativity and it’s explanation. He later recalled
that mastering the mathematics in Einstein’s
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Nobel laureates in Physics, Philosophers of science, Operation Epsilon, Scouting and Guiding in Germany, Werner Heisenberg, Copenhagen, Heisenberg, Mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, Martin Heisenberg, Johannes Juilfs
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