Max Planck is a German physicist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who is seen as the founder of quantum theory. Planck is the namesake of a multitude of scientific concepts, including several base units of measure, multiple laws and equations. Planck won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics.
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Planck’s Constant, usually symbolized h, relates a photon’s energy to its frequency. Specifically, it is equal to the energy of a photon divided by its frequency. Momentum divided by Planck’s Constant gives DeBroglie’s Wavelength. Planck’s Constant divided by 2pi gives Dirac’s Constant, a reduced form of Planck’s Constant often written as h-bar. Albert Einstein used Planck’s Constant to explain the photoelectric effect and Werner Heisenberg used it to explain the Uncertainty Principle.
The Rayleigh-Jeans Law predicted that an ideal blackbody at thermal equilibrium would emit radiation with infinite power. Planck solved this problem by introducing Planck’s Law which explained how blackbodies emitted energy in the form of quanta.
With Adriaan Fokker, Max Planck names an equation that describes the time evolution of a particle’s probability density function. This equation is sometimes referred to as the Kolmogorov Forward Equation and can be used to explain stochastic (random) processes such as Brownian Motion.
Planck hypothesized the existence of the Planck Epoch, a period of time at the beginning of the universe that lasted exactly 10 to the negative 43 seconds during which gravity dominated the other fundamental forces.
Planck names the smallest measurable distance in the universe, Planck Length. This is the distance traveled by light in a vacuum over the course of one unit of Planck Time, a base unit equal to approximately 5.39 × 10 to the negative 44 seconds.
Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:
* From Nova, an article about Planck’s Constant and its importance in modern life.
* Did you know Max Planck was a master at playing tag? Mental Floss on 17 interesting facts about Max Planck.
* A short but insightful look at the Planck Epoch
* This video is a good explanation of the Ultraviolet Catastrophe and how Max Planck solved it:
* This video explains Planck’s Constant and is a good introduction to Quantum Mechanics:
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