'The Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory'
By Max Planck (Author)
Excerpt from The Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory
My task this day is to present an address dealing with the subjects of my publications. I feel I can best discharge this duty, the significance of which is deeply impressed upon me by my debt of gratitude to the generous founder of this Institute, by attempting to sketch in outline the history of the origin of the Quantum Theory and to give a brief account of the development of this theory and its influence on the Physics of the present day.
When I recall the days of twenty years ago, when the conception of the physical quantum of 'action' was first beginning to disentangle itself from the surrounding mass of available experimental facts, and when I look back upon the long and tortuous road which finally led to its disclosure, this development strikes me at times as a new illustration of Goethe's saying, that 'man errs, so long as he is striving'. And all the mental effort of an assiduous investigator must indeed appear vain and hopeless, if he does not occasionally run across striking facts which form incontrovertible proof of the truth he seeks, and show him that after all he has moved at least one step nearer to his objective. The pursuit of a goal, the brightness of which is undimmed by initial failure, is an indispensable condition, though by no means a guarantee, of final success.
In my own case such a goal has been for many years the solution of the question of the distribution of energy in the normal spectrum of radiant heat.
Originally published in 1895. This volume from the Cornell University Library's print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies. All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was a German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, (23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose work on quantum theory won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame as a physicist rests primarily on his role as an originator of quantum theory, which revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes. However, his name is also known on a broader academic basis, through the renaming in 1948 of the German scientific institution, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society (of which he was twice president), as the Max Planck Society (MPS). The MPS now includes 83 institutions representing a wide range of scientific directions.