The physicist Max Planck struggles to save his son from Adolf Hitler in the opening chapter of the biography Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War. As he navigates the madness of crumbling Nazi Germany, each chapter opens a window to his fascinating past, from a childhood of candlelight, through visionary work in physics, to the poignant tragedies of his later life.
Interweaving the voices and writings of Planck, his family, and his contemporaries -- with many passages appearing in English for the first time -- physicist Brandon R. Brown seeks to understand Planck the thinker and human being. "Uncle Max" was a devoted family man, a scientific optimist, a conflicted patriot, and a trusted voice in Germany and abroad.
The nineteenth century forged Planck and his approach to science, before the twentieth century unraveled both. In seeking an ultimate truth, he sparked the quantum revolution in physics. Along the way, Planck built and then became the spokesman for German physics as it reached its peak. He nurtured a younger generation of physicists, including Albert Einstein.
Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War combines history, human pathos, and the physics of a revolutionary period. Published by Oxford University Press in 2015, it is available via all major retailers, (and with luck at a few of your favorite local bookstores).
Banner photo: Max Planck in Göttingen, 1946. Courtesy Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem.