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Werner Heisenberg


Werner Heisenberg was a German Physicist who was one of the most important pioneers of quantum mechanics and won a Nobel Prize in 1932. His largest contributions to physics were the development of Matrix Mechanics and the Uncertainty Principle.

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Werner Heisenberg was born in Würzburg, Germany on December 5, 1901. Heisenberg studied math and physics at the University of Munich. He completed his doctorate in 1923 on hydrodynamics.

He developed a way of describing quantum mechanics using matrices. He solved an issue raised as the Bohr model of electron orbits did not match up with the observed spectral lines of larger atoms than hydrogen. Not long after Heisenberg created his method of describing quantum mechanics, Erwin Schrödinger created another method called wave mechanics. This method was preferred among physicists at the time.

In 1927 Heisenberg produced a paper titled “On Perceptual Content of Quantum Theoretical Kinematic and Mechanics”, while at Bohr’s Copenhagen Institute. In this paper, Heisenberg laid out an early version of his most influential work, the uncertainty principle. This principle is a fundamental idea in quantum mechanics; it states that we cannot know the position and the velocity of a particle exactly. He won his Nobel Prize in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics”.

Heisenberg played an important role in the German nuclear fission research group during World War II. He headed a group of other physicists in a mission to make nuclear weapons. The group was never successful.

Werner Heisenberg died February 1, 1976, aged 74.


Heisenberg’s Significant Accomplishments

  • Matrix mechanic formulation of quantum mechanics
  • Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933
  • Uncertainty Principle
  • Developing the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics with Niels Bohr

Werner Heisenberg Quotes

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”
“Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.”
“An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.”

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