Heisenberg was a student of Arnold Sommerfeld , an assistant to Max Born , and later a close associate of Niels Bohr . He taught at the universities of Leipzig (1927–41) and Berlin (1942–45). During World War II he headed German efforts in nuclear fission research, which failed to develop a nuclear reactor or atomic bomb. Although he claimed after the war to have had qualms about building nuclear weapons, it seems likely that the reasons Germany failed to do so were technical and logistical.
In 1958 he became director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics, now located in Munich. His later work concerned the so-called S-matrix approach to nuclear forces and the possibility that space and time are quantized, or granular, in structure. His Physics and Philosophy (1962) and Physics and Beyond (1971) remain popular accounts of the revolutions in modern physics.
See D. C. Cassidy, Uncertainty: The Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg (1993) R. P. Brennan, Heisenberg Probably Slept Here: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Physicists of the 20th Century (1996).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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