Planck: The Fight for Order

The Dilemmas of a Upright Man: Max Planck as Spokesman for German Science. J.L. Heilbron. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 238 pp., illus. $16.95. The story of Max Planck goes far beyond his status as an eminent scientist and creator of the quantum. Planck, who was born in Germany in 1858 and remained there until his death in 1947, lived in an era that witnessed significant changes throughout the world. Heilbron's book seeks to understand Planck in his historical setting, and whil

Andy Pickering
Jan 11, 1987
The Dilemmas of a Upright Man: Max Planck as Spokesman for German Science. J.L. Heilbron. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1986. 238 pp., illus. $16.95.

The story of Max Planck goes far beyond his status as an eminent scientist and creator of the quantum. Planck, who was born in Germany in 1858 and remained there until his death in 1947, lived in an era that witnessed significant changes throughout the world. Heilbron's book seeks to understand Planck in his historical setting, and while it gives an insightful account of his contributions to physics and philosophy, it is more concerned with Planck as an institutional actor, a leading representative of the German scientific community. The biography of Planck and the history of Germany are lucidly and skillfully intertwined.

Planck, a man of exceptional probity and integrity, accumulated not only honors, but also positions of power. These included that of permanent secretary...

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