Max Planck's twin daughters Emma and Grete flank his eldest son Karl. Courtesy Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem.
Physicist Brown illuminates all these episodes — as well as Planck’s celebrated friendship with Einstein — with heartbreaking empathy.
popular history of science at its best.
There’s still an important story to be told about these tragedies, and it’s told rather perfectly by Brandon Brown... Since memories are by nature random and ephemeral, there’s nothing linear about the way [Planck’s] story unfolds. That’s precisely what makes this book so special.
... fascinating and deeply moving ... placing readers with care and precision in the heart of history, science, friendship, and family. The book throbs with the warmth and tragedy of human connections, and it is suspenseful on many levels: cultural, emotional, intellectual. ... Seldom have life, work, and love, and their nourishing intersections, been so well, so attentively, and so beautifully described.
Brown’s fervour is inspiring. He has done a great service by shedding light on the life and work of a very brilliant though troubled individual, ‘father of quantum theory’ and witness to the greatest upheavals of the 20th century.
...engrossing, insightful, and definitive biography...
... searching, sympathetic, and technically informed... [Brown is] a very lively writer and a first-rate explainer.
The story of Max is a particular example of a more general question: where to draw the line between loyalty to a community and resistance to evil.
Planck is beautifully written, dramatic, engaging, and completely accessible. ... This engrossing and surprising book helps us understand some of the deepest and most fascinating topics in physics, while it also shows how personal relationships shaped the history of science.
The life of Max Planck, ‘father of quantum theory’, smacks of enigma: his personal papers were mostly destroyed in the Second World War. Physicist Brandon Brown has mined what survived for this illuminating biography.
Brown paints an intimate portrait of Planck in lithe, lively prose and avoids the worshipful tones that sometimes mark popular scientific biographies... no fuller or more readable account exists in the English language.