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About Max Born, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1954
Max Born received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1954 for his work on Quantum Mechanics. (Family name was originally Buttermilch but was changed in 1842 to Born)
"The wide–ranging family history of Max Born" by G. V. R. Born. Max Born, one of the founders of quantum mechanics and the author's father, in the context of his forebears, family and descendants. It traces the family's history from Martin Luther to the present day, ranging as far afield as Ben Elton and Olivia Newton–John.
Max Born (11 December 1882 – 5 January 1970) was a German born physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s. Born won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics Early life and education
Max was born on December 11, 1882 in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), which at Born's birth was in the Prussian Province of Silesia in the German Empire. He was one of two children born to Gustav Born, (b. 22 April 1850, Kempen, d. 6 July 1900, Breslau), an anatomist and embryologist, and Margarethe ('Gretchen') Kauffmann (b. 22 January 1856, Tannhausen, d. 29 August 1886, Breslau), from a Silesian family of industrialists.
Gustav and Gretchen married on 7 May 1881. She died when Max was just four years old, on 29 August 1886.
Max had a sister Käthe (b. 5 March 1884), and a half-brother Wolfgang (b. 21 October 1892) from his father's second marriage (m. 13 September 1891) with Bertha Lipstein.
Initially educated at the König-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Born went on to study at the University of Breslau followed by Heidelberg University and the University of Zurich. During study for his Ph.D. and Habilitation at the University of Göttingen, he came into contact with many prominent scientists and mathematicians including Klein, Hilbert, Minkowski, Runge, Schwarzschild, and Voigt.
In 1908-1909 he studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
When Born arrived in Göttingen in 1904, Klein, Hilbert, and Minkowski were the high priests of mathematics and were known as the “mandarins.” Very quickly after his arrival, Born formed close ties to the latter two men.
From the first class he took with Hilbert, Hilbert identified Born as having exceptional abilities and selected him as the lecture scribe, whose function was to write up the class notes for the students’ mathematics reading room at the University of Göttingen. Being class scribe put Born into regular, invaluable contact with Hilbert, during which time Hilbert’s intellectual largesse benefited Born’s fertile mind. Hilbert became Born’s mentor and Hilbert eventually selected him to be the first to hold the unpaid, semi-official position of Hilbert’s assistant.
Born’s introduction to Minkowski came through Born’s stepmother, Bertha, as she knew Minkowski from dancing classes in Königsberg. The introduction netted Born invitations to the Minkowski household for Sunday dinners. In addition, while performing his duties as scribe and assistant, Born often saw Minkowski at Hilbert’s house. Born’s outstanding work on elasticity - a subject near and dear to Klein - became the core of his magna cum laude Ph.D. thesis, in spite of some of Born’s irrationalities in dealing with Klein
Born married Hedwig, née Ehrenberg, who was, like Born, of Jewish descent (although a practising Christian), on 2 August 1913, and converted to the Lutheran faith soon thereafter; the marriage produced three children including G. V. R. Born.
His daughter Irene was the mother of British-born Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John.
Via marriage, he is the great uncle of British alternative comedian Ben Elton.
See relationship between Born's wife, Hedwig Ehrenberg and Franz Rosenzweig.
- Biographical index of former fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1783-2002, pt. 1. A-J, page 99