Werner Heisenberg (1901 - 1976)

Werner Heisenberg was born on December 5, 1901, at Würzburg, Germany. In 1923 he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Munich. Heisenberg's name will always be associated with his theory of quantum mechanics, published in 1925. For this theory, Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for 1932. He is also known for the Uncertainty Principle.

In 1941 he was appointed the Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. Heisenberg was drafted by the Nazis to lead the German atomic bomb project. However, unlike the physicists in the Soviet Union or America, he wasn't as optimistic about the feasibility of building a bomb. Near the end of the Second World War, he and other German physicists were taken prisoner by American troops and sent to England. Due to several errors early in their investigation, the German effort was never close to developing an atomic weapon. Heisenberg had spent the entire war working on a nuclear reactor, but had never accomplished a chain reaction.

After the war, he served as the director of the Max Planck Institute at Göttingen (and from 1958 at Munich). He held this post until he resigned in 1970. He continued to work on problems of plasma physics and thermonuclear processes, as well as on the unified field theory of elementary particles. Werner Heisenberg died on February 1, 1976.