4926 words - 20 pages

Werner Heisenberg, born in the dawn of the twentieth century became one

of its greatest physicists; he is also among its most controversial.

While still in his early twenties, he was among the handful of bright,

young men who created quantum mechanics, the basic physics of the atom,

and he became a leader of nuclear physics and elementary particle

research. He is best known for his uncertainty principle, a component

of the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of the meaning, and uses of

quantum mechanics.

Through his successful life, he lived through two lost World Wars,

Soviet Revolution, military occupation, two republics, political unrest,

and Hitler’s Third Reich. He ...view middle of the document...

The Heisenberg family were accomplished

musicians. Every evening they would sit and practice together. August

was on the piano, Erwin played the violin, and Werner played the cello.

Their mother insisted that she had no musical talent as an excuse to not

be involved in the male competition. Later Werner also learned the

piano and used his musical talents as a social vehicle during the course

of his life. This manly competition carried out in many other

activities in the house. Sometimes August Heisenberg would make games

out of difficult homework problems that the boys had. Werner once said

when reflecting back on his childhood, "Our father used to play all

kinds of games with [us] …. And since he was a good teacher, he found

that the games could be used for the educating the children. So when my

brother had some mathematical problems in his schoolwork …. he tried to

use these problems as a kind of game and find out who could do them

quickly, and so on. Somehow, I discovered that I could do that kind of

mathematics rather quickly, so from that time on I had a special

interest in mathematics." This constant competition caused many fights

between the brothers. As they grew older the fights became more

vicious. One time the fight became particularly bloody where they beat

each other with wooden chairs. After this confrontation the brothers

called a truce and hardly interacted with each other except for

occasional family get togethers when they were adults.

In school, Werner began to show his amazing ability early on. He

excelled through school and always received complementary remarks from

his teachers. As a result from the competition with his brother he

developed a hard work ethic and a strong drive to succeed. Even though

Werner was not a good runner he would run around the track timing

himself with a stopwatch trying to improve his running times. A teacher

of his once said, "The pupil is also extraordinary, self-confident and

always wants to excel." Werner Heisenberg excelled in math, physics, and

religion in which he consistently received 1’s (the equivalent of A’s).

The subjects that he did not fair as well in were German and Athletics

which he usually received 2’s (or B’s). At the age of thirteen one of

his teachers noted that his interests were moving to more

"physical-technical things". This change in interests moved Heisenberg

along the path from the geometry of objects into the realm of

theoretical physics, especially the mathematical analysis of physical

objects and data. As a pupil at the Gymnasium, he was intrigued by

Einstein’s theory of relativity and it’s explanation. He later recalled

that mastering the mathematics in Einstein’s book gave him no

difficulty. At the age of sixteen he tutored a 24 year old university

calculus student to pass her final examination. Having no previous

knowledge in calculus, he set...

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