Max Born (1882-1970)

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Max Born was born in Wroclaw, Poland (which was then Breslau, Germany), on 11 December 1882. He was educated at the Gymnasium and at the University in his home city, and he also studied at the Universities of Heidelberg, Zuerich, Goettingen (where he obtained the degree of D.Phil.), and Cambridge. Prior to his arrival in Britain in 1933 when he fled the growing danger of racial and political persecution in Nazi Germany, Born had been Professor at the Universities of Berlin, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Goettingen.

At Cambridge he held the post of Stokes Lecturer of Applied Mathematics. In 1936, he was appointed to the Tait Chair of Natural Philosophy with special reference to Mathematical Physics at Edinburgh University. In 1939 he became a British subject. His work on Relativity and on various aspects of Atomic Structure had already earned him international renown and while at Edinburgh he continued to extend the literature of his science. Born retired in 1953, and in 1954 he was the joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics.

With Walther Bothe (1891-1957) of the University of Heidelberg, Born had been awarded the Prize for the statistical formulation of the behaviour of subatomic particles. His studies of the wave function led to the replacement of the original quantum theory (which regarded electrons as particles) with an essentially mathematical description representing their observed behaviour more accurately. His publications include The constitution of matter, modern atomic and electron theories (Eng. tr. 1923), Einstein's theory of relativity (Eng. tr. 1924), The restless universe (1935), The natural philosophy of cause and chance (1949), Physics in my generation: a selection of papers (1956), and Recollections of Max Born (1965).

Professor Max Born died in Goettingen on 5 January 1970.