Max Born: One of the Pioneers in Quantum Mechanics
Max Born was born on December 11, 1882, in a Jewish family in Breslau, to Professor Gustav Born, an anatomist and embryologist, and his wife Margarete Kauffmann, a member of a Silesian business family. Max went to the König Wilhelm's Gymnasium in Breslau and later continued his studies at the universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Zurich and Göttingen. He mainly studied mathematics at the latter institution under Klein, Hilbert, Minkowski, and Runge, but he also studied physics under Voigt and astronomy under Schwarzschild.
In 1906, for his work on the stability of elastic wires and tapes, Max received the Prize of the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Göttingen. He graduated from the same university a year later based on this work. Born then went to Cambridge for a brief period to study under Larmor and J.J. Thomson. In Breslau from 1908 to 1909, he worked with physicists Lummer and Pringsheim and studied the theory of relativity.
Impressed with his papers, Hermann Minkowski invited Max to collaborate at Göttingen. But before Max arrived in 1909, Minkowski died. Later he was tasked with sorting through Minkowski's literary works in physics and publishing some unfinished articles. In appreciation of his work on the relativistic electron, he was soon appointed as an academic lecturer at Göttingen. He accepted physicist Albert A. Michelson's invitation to lecture on relativity in Chicago in 1912, and while there, he experimented with the Michelson grating spectrograph.
Born was offered a position as a professor to help Max Planck at Berlin University in 1915, but he had to join the German Armed Forces. He worked on the theory of sound range in an army scientific office. He also studied crystal theory and published Dynamik der Kristallgitter (Dynamics of Crystal Lattices), his first book, which covered a series of experiments he began at Göttingen. Born was appointed Professor at the University of Frankfurt-on-Main after the First World War, where he had access to a laboratory. Otto Stern was his assistant, and the first of the latter's well-known experiments, which subsequently won a Nobel Prize, began there.
Max Born arrived in Göttingen as a Professor in 1921, the same year as James Franck, and stayed for twelve years, except for a trip to America in 1925. During these years, Born produced some of his most important works, including a modernised edition of his book on crystals and several examinations on crystal lattices by him and his students, followed by a series of studies on quantum theory. Many well-known physicists worked with him then, including Pauli, Heisenberg, Fermi, Dirac, Jordan, Hund, Hylleraas, Joseph Mayer, Weisskopf, Oppenheimer, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer. In 1925 and 1926, he published investigations on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics (matrix mechanics) with Heisenberg and Jordan, followed by his own studies on the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics. In 1954, Born shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Walther Bothe "for his fundamental research in quantum mechanics, especially for his statistical interpretation of the wavefunction".
Like many other German scientists, Born was compelled to emigrate in 1933 and was welcomed to Cambridge, where he taught for three years as the Stokes Lecturer. During this time, he primarily focused on nonlinear electrodynamics, which he developed in partnership with Infeld. Born spent the winter of 1935-1936 at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, where he collaborated with Sir C.V. Raman and his students. He was named Tait Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh in 1936 and remained there until his retirement in 1953. The following year, Born and his wife moved to Bad Pyrmont, a tiny spa town near Göttingen.
Born continued his scientific work in retirement and published new editions of his publications. He became one of the signatories to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto in 1955. Max Born is the recipient of the Max Planck Medaille der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft, the Stokes Medal of Cambridge, the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society of London, the Hugo Grotius Medal for International Law, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh's MacDougall-Brisbane Prize and the Gunning-Victoria Jubilee Prize. In 1953, he was designated an honorary citizen of Göttingen. In 1959, he received the Grand Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the German Federal Republic.
Born died on January 5, 1970, at the age of 87, at a hospital in Göttingen, and is buried in the Stadtfriedhof beside Walther Nernst, Wilhelm Weber, Max von Laue, Otto Hahn, Max Planck, and David Hilbert.