Praeceptor Physicae


  The American physicist Robert Millikan (2nd from right) among his Berlin colleagues M. von Laue, M. Planck, A. Einstein, and W. Nernst (from right to left).
  Max Planck's activities as an academic were closely tied to the University of Berlin for more than half a century. By his person, he continued the great tradition of theoretical physics in Berlin and, after the death of Helmholtz, influenced the development of physics as a whole. Like Helmholtz, Max Planck also distinguished himself as a universalist-ever concerned with guarding a general overview of the physical developments of his time. Nor did he restrict his efforts to promoting his own personal fame, acting always on a sense of obligation toward science as a whole. Planck's renown was thus based not just on his outstanding achievements as a physicist, but also on his active involvement in scientific life. He lent his support to younger talent, promoted innovative solutions in the field of scientific organization, or, as a holder of offices in scientific societies and institutions, took upon himself official responsibility.

Planck was especially devoted to the German Physical Society, which he had joined immediately upon moving to Berlin. The inauguration of the former Berliner Gesellschaft in 1899 as the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft is inseparably linked with his name, whose statutes he had drawn up. For three decades he served on the society's board-as treasurer, committee member, and between 1905 and 1908 and 1915/16 as its chairman. Additionally, at the behest of the society he was one of the editors of the reputable "Annalen der Physik". Planck's devoted service to the society was acknowledged by conferral of honorary membership in 1927. In 1929, on the occasion of the golden anniversary of his doctorate, an award, the Max Planck Medal, was also established, whose first recipient was Max Planck himself. It has been awarded annually ever since and is the highest distinction of the German Physical Society.

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  "When I arrived here in 1889, the first thing for me was to join the Society in the spring ... There was a time when I never missed a meeting, when I attended every single late session ..."
Berlin, 1938

Max Planck presents to Albert Einstein the Max Planck Medal in 1929.