“The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world.”

Max Born, from Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance (1964)


Portrait of Max Born, via nobelprize.org

Max Born (December 11, 1882 – January 5, 1970) was a German physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He was born in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), to a family of Jewish descent. His father was an anatomist and embryologist, influencing Born at an early age; his mother died before his fifth birthday. Born entered the University of Breslau in 1901. A professor identified Born’s exceptional abilities and selected him as the lecture scribe. Once graduated he then entered the University of Göttingen in 1904, where he found the three renowned mathematicians Felix Klein, David Hilbert, and Hermann Minkowski. The influence of these three men would catapult him into brilliance. In 1925 he and Werner Heisenberg formulated the matrix mechanics representation of quantum mechanics. The following year, he formulated the now-standard interpretation of the probability density function in the Schrödinger equation, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954. In 1933 when the Nazi Party came to power he was forced to flee Göttingen and emigrated to the United Kingdom, where his work continued. Max Born became one of the leading minds on Atomic Physics. He died at age 87 in hospital in Göttingen.

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