Werner Heisenberg (5 December 1901 in Würzburg–1 February 1976 in Munich) was a German theoretical physicist, best known for enunciating the uncertainty principle of quantum theory. He made important contributions to quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, quantum field theory, and particle physics.
Heisenberg, along with Max Born and Pascual Jordan, set forth the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics in 1925. Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics.
After Hitler came to power in 1933, Heisenberg was attacked in the press by elements of the deutsche Physik movement, and he came under investigation by the SS. This was embroiled with the attempt to appoint Heisenberg as successor to Arnold Sommerfeld at the University of Munich; it became known as the Heisenberg Affair. The issue was resolved by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, in 1938. While Heisenberg was not selected as Sommerfeld’s successor, he was completely rehabilitated to the physics community relative to the Third Reich.
The German nuclear energy project, also known informally as the Uranium Club, began in 1939 under the auspices of the German Ordnance Office. In 1942, control of the project was relinquished to the Reich Research Council. Throughout the project, Heisenberg was one of the nine principals heading up research and development for the program. In 1942, Heisenberg was appointed as director-in-residence of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics.
Heisenberg was one of 10 German scientists arrested near the end of World War II under the American Operation Alsos. He was detained in England from May 1945 to January 1946.
Upon Heisenberg’s return to Germany, he settled in Göttingen in the British occupation zone, where he was appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which was soon thereafter renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics. He was director of the institute until it was moved to Munich in 1958, when it was expanded and renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics. For two years, he was co-director with the astrophysicist Ludwig Biermann. Heisenberg was director of the institute from 1960 to 1970.
Heisenberg was also president of the German Research Council, chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics, chairman of the Nuclear Physics Working Group, and president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Heisenberg studied physics and mathematics from 1920 to 1923 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
and the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
. At Munich, he studied under Arnold Sommerfeld
and Wilhelm Wien
. At Göttingen, he studied physics with Max Born
and James Franck
, and he studied mathematics with David Hilbert
. He received his doctorate in 1923, at Munich under Sommerfeld. He completed his Habilitation
in 1924, at Göttingen under Born.
Because Sommerfeld had a sincere interest in his students and knew of Heisenberg’s interest in the Bohr’s theories on atomic physics, Sommerfeld took Heisenberg to Göttingen to the Bohr-Festspiele (Bohr Festival) in June 1922. At the event, Niels Bohr was a guest lecturer and gave a series of comprehensive lectures on quantum atomic physics. There, Heisenberg met Bohr for the first time, and it had a significant and continuing effect on him.
Heisenberg’s doctoral thesis, the topic of which was suggested by Sommerfeld, was on turbulence; the thesis discussed both the stability of laminar flow and the nature of turbulent flow. The problem of stability was investigated by the use of the Orr–Sommerfeld equation, a fourth order linear differential equation for small disturbances from laminar flow. He would briefly return to this topic after World War II.
Heisenberg’s paper on the anomalous Zeeman effect was accepted as his Habilitationsschrift under Max Born at Göttingen.
Göttingen, Copenhagen, and Leipzig
From 1924 to 1927, Heisenberg was a Privatdozent
at Göttingen. From 17 September 1924 to 1 May 1925, under an International Education Board Rockefeller Foundation fellowship, Heisenberg went to do research with Niels Bohr
, director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Copenhagen
. He returned to Göttingen and with Max Born
and Pascual Jordan
, over a period of about six months, developed the matrix mechanics
formulation of quantum mechanics
. On 1 May 1926, Heisenberg began his appointment as a university lecturer and assistant to Bohr in Copenhagen. It was in Copenhagen, in 1927, that Heisenberg developed his uncertainty principle
, while working on the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. In his paper on the uncertainty principle, Heisenberg used the word “Ungenauigkeit
In 1927, Heisenberg was appointed ordentlicher Professor (ordinarius professor) of theoretical physics and head of the department of physics at the Universität Leipzig; he gave his inaugural lecture on 1 February 1928. In his first paper published from Leipzig, Heisenberg used the Pauli exclusion principle to solve the mystery of ferromagnetism.
In Heisenberg’s tenure at Leipzig, the quality of doctoral students, post-graduate and research associates who studied and worked with Heisenberg there is attested to by the acclaim later earned by these personnel. At various times, these personnel included: Erich Bagge, Felix Bloch, Ugo Fano, Siegfried Flügge, William Vermillion Houston, Friedrich Hund, Robert S. Mulliken, Rudolf Peierls, George Placzek, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Fritz Sauter, John C. Slater, Edward Teller, John Hasbrouck van Vleck, Victor Frederick Weisskopf, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Gregor Wentzel, and Clarence Zener.
In early 1929, Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli submitted the first of two papers laying the foundation for relativistic quantum field theory. Also in 1929, Heisenberg went on a lecture tour in the United States, Japan, China, and India.
Shortly after the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick in 1932, Heisenberg submitted the first of three papers on his neutron-proton model of the nucleus. He was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics.
In 1928, the British mathematical physicist P. A. M. Dirac had derived the relativistic wave equation of quantum mechanics, which implied the existence of positive electrons, later to be named positrons. In 1932, from a cloud chamber photograph of cosmic rays, the American physicist Carl David Anderson identified a track as having been made by a positron. In mid-1933, Heisenberg presented his theory of the positron. His thinking on Dirac’s theory and further development of the theory were set forth in two papers. The first, Bemerkungen zur Diracschen Theorie des Positrons (Remarks on Dirac’s theory of the positron) was published in 1934, and the second, Folgerungen aus der Diracschen Theorie des Positrons (Consequences of Dirac’s Theory of the Positron), was published in 1936.
In the early 1930s in Germany, the deutsche Physik movement was anti-Semitic and anti-theoretical physics, especially including quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. As applied in the university environment, political factors took priority over the historically applied concept of scholarly ability, even though its two most prominent supporters were the Nobel Laureates in Physics Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark. When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, the concept and movement took on more favour and more fervor. Supporters of deutsche Physik launched vicious attacks against leading theoretical physicists, including Arnold Sommerfeld and Heisenberg. On June 29, 1936, a National Socialist Party newspaper published an article attacking Heisenberg. On July 15, 1937, he was attacked in a periodical of the Schutzstaffel (SS). This was the beginning of what is called the Heisenberg Affair.
In mid-1936, Heisenberg presented his theory of cosmic-ray showers in two papers. Four more papers appeared in the next two years.
In June 1939, Heisenberg bought a summer home for his family in Urfeld, in southern Germany, to be used as a retreat. Also in 1939, Heisenberg traveled to the United States in June and July. There, he visited Samuel Abraham Goudsmit, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Heisenberg refused an invitation to emigrate to the United States. Heisenberg would not see Goudsmit again until six years later, when Goudsmit was the chief scientific advisor to the American Operation Alsos at the close of World War II. Heisenberg would be arrested under Operation Alsos and detained in England under Operation Epsilon.
Matrix Mechanics and the Nobel Prize
In 1925, Max Born
and Heisenberg formulated the matrix mechanics representation of quantum mechanics. On July 9, Heisenberg gave Born a paper to review and submit for publication. In the paper, Heisenberg formulated quantum theory avoiding the concrete but unobservable representations of electron orbits by using parameters such as transition probabilities for quantum jumps, which necessitated using two indexes corresponding to the initial and final states. When Born read the paper, he recognized the formulation as one which could be transcribed and extended to the systematic language of matrices, which he had learned from his study under Jakob Rosanes
at Breslau University
. Born, with the help of his assistant and former student Pascual Jordan
, began immediately to make the transcription and extension, and they submitted their results for publication; the paper was received for publication just 60 days after Heisenberg’s paper. A follow-on paper was submitted for publication before the end of the year by all three authors. (A brief review of Born’s role in the development of the matrix mechanics
formulation of quantum mechanics along with a discussion of the key formula involving the non-commutivity of the probability amplitudes can be found in an article by Jeremy Bernstein, Max Born and the Quantum Theory
. A detailed historical and technical account can be found in Mehra and Rechenberg’s book The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 3. The Formulation of Matrix Mechanics and Its Modifications 1925–1926.
Up until this time, matrices were seldom used by physicists; they were considered to belong to the realm of pure mathematics. Gustav Mie had used them in a paper on electrodynamics in 1912 and Born had used them in his work on the lattices theory of crystals in 1921. While matrices were used in these cases, the algebra of matrices with their multiplication did not enter the picture as they did in the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics.
Born, however, had learned matrix algebra from Rosanes, as already noted, but Born had also learned Hilbert’s theory of integral equations and quadratic forms for an infinite number of variables as was apparent from a citation by Born of Hilbert’s work Grundzüge einer allgemeinen Theorie der Linearen Integralgleichungen published in 1912. Jordan, too was well equipped for the task. For a number of years, he had been an assistant to Richard Courant at Göttingen in the preparation of Courant and David Hilbert’s book Methoden der mathematischen Physik I, which was published in 1924. This book, fortuitously, contained a great many of the mathematical tools necessary for the continued development of quantum mechanics. In 1926, John von Neumann became assistant to David Hilbert, and he would coin the term Hilbert space to describe the algebra and analysis which were used in the development of quantum mechanics.
In 1928, Albert Einstein nominated Heisenberg, Born, and Jordan for the Nobel Prize in Physics, but it was not to be. The announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 was delayed until November 1933. It was at that time that it was announced Heisenberg had won the Prize for 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen” and Erwin Schrödinger and Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac shared the 1933 Prize "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory". One can rightly ask why Born was not awarded the Prize in 1932 along with Heisenberg – Bernstein gives some speculations on this matter. One of them is related to Jordan joining the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933 and becoming a Storm Trooper. Hence, Jordan’s Party affiliations and Jordan’s links to Born may have affected Born’s chance at the Prize at that time. Bernstein also notes that when Born won the Prize in 1954, Jordan was still alive, and the Prize was awarded for the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics, attributable alone to Born.
Heisenberg’s reaction to Born for Heisenberg receiving the Prize for 1932 and to Born for Born receiving the Prize in 1954 are also instructive in evaluating whether Born should have shared the Prize with Heisenberg. On 25 November 1933, Born received a letter from Heisenberg in which he said he had been delayed in writing due to a “bad conscience” that he alone had received the Prize “for work done in Göttingen in collaboration – you, Jordan and I.” Heisenberg went on to say that Born and Jordan’s contribution to quantum mechanics cannot be changed by “a wrong decision from the outside.” In 1954, Heisenberg wrote an article honoring Max Planck for his insight in 1900. In the article, Heisenberg credited Born and Jordan for the final mathematical formulation of matrix mechanics and Heisenberg went on to stress how great their contributions were to quantum mechanics, which were not “adequately acknowledged in the public eye.”
The deutsche Physik movement & the Heisenberg Affair
On 1 April 1935, the eminent theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld
, Heisenberg’s doctoral advisor at the University of Munich
, achieved emeritus status. However, Sommerfeld stayed on as his own temporary replacement during the selection process for his successor, which took until 1 December 1939. The process was lengthy due to academic and political differences between the Munich Faculty’s selection and that of both the Reichserziehungsministerium
(REM, Reich Education Ministry.) and the supporters of deutsche Physik
, which was anti-Semitic
and had a bias against theoretical physics
, especially including quantum mechanics
and the theory of relativity
. In 1935, the Munich Faculty drew up a candidate list to replace Sommerfeld as ordinarius professor of theoretical physics and head of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Munich. There were three names on the list: Werner Heisenberg, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics
for 1932, Peter Debye
, who would receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
in 1936, and Richard Becker
- all former students of Sommerfeld. The Munich Faculty was firmly behind these candidates, with Heisenberg as their first choice. However, supporters of deutsche Physik
and elements in the REM had their own list of candidates and the battle commenced, dragging on for over four years. During this time, Heisenberg came under vicious attack by the supporters of deutsche Physik.
One such attack was published in Das Schwarze Korps
, the newspaper of the Schutzstaffel
(SS), headed by Heinrich Himmler
. In the editorial, Heisenberg was called a “White Jew” who should be made to “disappear.” These verbal attacks were taken seriously, as there was physical violence against the Jews and they were incarcerated. Heisenberg fought back with an editorial and a letter to Himmler, in an attempt to get a resolution to this matter and regain his honor. At one point, Heisenberg’s mother visited Himmler’s mother to help bring a resolution to the affair. The two women knew each other as a result of Heisenberg’s maternal grandfather and Himmler’s father being rectors and members of a Bavarian hiking club. Eventually, Himmler settled the Heisenberg affair by sending two letters, one to SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich
and one to Heisenberg, both on 21 July 1938. In the letter to Heydrich, Himmler said Germany could not afford to lose or silence Heisenberg as he would be useful for teaching a generation of scientists. To Heisenberg, Himmler said the letter came on recommendation of his family and he cautioned Heisenberg to make a distinction between professional physics research results and the personal and political attitudes of the involved scientists. The letter to Heisenberg was signed under the closing “Mit freundlichem Gruss und, Heil Hitler!” (With friendly greetings, Heil Hitler!”) Overall, the Heisenberg affair was settled with a victory for academic standards and professionalism, however, with Wilhelm Müller taking over for Sommerfeld on 1 December 1939, this appointment was a political victory over academic standards. Müller was not a theoretical physicist, had not published in a physics journal, and was not a member of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
; his appointment as a replacement for Sommerfeld was considered a travesty and detrimental to educating a new generation of theoretical physicists.
During the SS investigation of Heisenberg, there were three investigators and all had training in physics. Heisenberg had participated in the doctoral examination of one of them at the Universität Leipzig. The most influential of the three, however, was Johannes Juilfs. During their investigation, they had all become supporters of Heisenberg as well as his position against the ideological policies of the deutsche Physik movement in theoretical physics and academia.
World War II
In 1939, shortly after the discovery of nuclear fission, the German nuclear energy project
, also known as the Uranverein
(Uranium Club), was begun. Heisenberg was one of the principal scientists leading research and development in the project.
From 15 to 22 September 1941, Heisenberg traveled to German occupied Copenhagen to lecture and discuss nuclear research and theoretical physics with Niels Bohr. The meeting is the subject of the award winning play titled Copenhagen. Documents relating to the Bohr-Heisenberg meeting were released in 2002 by the Niels Bohr Archive.
On February 26, 1942, Heisenberg presented a lecture to Reich officials on energy acquisition from nuclear fission, after the Army withdrew most of its funding. The Uranium Club was transferred to the Reich Research Council (RFR) in July 1942. On June 4, 1942, Heisenberg was summoned to report to Albert Speer, Germany's Minister of Armaments, on the prospects for converting the Uranium Club's research toward developing nuclear weapons. During the meeting, Heisenberg told Speer that a bomb could not be built before 1945, and would require significant monetary and manpower resources. . Five days later, on 9 June 1942, Adolf Hitler issued a decree for the reorganization of the RFR as a separate legal entity under the Reich Ministry for Armament and Ammunition; the decree appointed Reich Marshall Göring as the president.
In September 1942, Heisenberg submitted his first paper of a three-part series on the scattering matrix, or S-matrix, in elementary particle physics. The first two papers were published in 1943 and the third in 1944. The S-matrix described only observables, i.e., the states of incident particles in a collision process, the states of those emerging from the collision, and stable bound states; there would be no reference to the intervening states. This was the same precedent as he followed in 1925 in what turned out to be the foundation of the matrix formulation of quantum mechanics through only the use of observables.
In February 1943, Heisenberg was appointed to the Chair for Theoretical Physics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (today, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). In April, his election to the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Prussian Academy of Sciences) was approved. That same month, he moved his family to their retreat in Urfeld as Allied bombing increased in Berlin. In the summer, he dispatched the first of his staff at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik to Hechingen and its neighboring town of Haigerloch, on the edge of the Black Forest, for the same reasons. From 18-26 October, he traveled to German occupied Netherlands. In December 1943, Heisenberg visited German occupied Poland.
From 24 January to 4 February 1944, Heisenberg traveled to occupied Copenhagen, after the German Army confiscated Bohr’s Institute of Theoretical Physics. He made a short return trip in April. In December, Heisenberg lectured in neutral Switzerland.
In January 1945, Heisenberg vacated the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik with about all of his staff for the facilities in the Black Forest.
In December 1938, the German chemists Otto Hahn
and Fritz Strassmann
sent a manuscript to Naturwissenschaften
reporting they had detected the element barium
after bombarding uranium
; simultaneously, they communicated these results to Lise Meitner
, who had in July of that year fled to The Netherlands
and then went to Sweden
. Meitner, and her nephew Otto Robert Frisch
, correctly interpreted these results as being nuclear fission
. Frisch confirmed this experimentally on 13 January 1939.
Paul Harteck was director of the physical chemistry department at the University of Hamburg and an advisor to the Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office). On 24 April 1939, along with his teaching assistant Wilhelm Groth, Harteck made contact with the Reichskriegsministerium (RKM, Reich Ministry of War) to alert them to the potential of military applications of nuclear chain reactions. Two days earlier, on 22 April 1939, after hearing a colloquium paper by Wilhelm Hanle on the use of uranium fission in a Uranmaschine (uranium machine, i.e., nuclear reactor), Georg Joos, along with Hanle, notified Wilhelm Dames, at the Reichserziehungsministerium (REM, Reich Ministry of Education), of potential military applications of nuclear energy. The communication was given to Abraham Esau, head of the physics section of the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council) at the REM. On 29 April, a group, organized by Esau, met at the REM to discuss the potential of a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The group included the physicists Walther Bothe, Robert Döpel, Hans Geiger, Wolfgang Gentner (probably sent by Walther Bothe), Wilhelm Hanle, Gerhard Hoffmann, and Georg Joos; Peter Debye was invited, but he did not attend. After this, informal work began at the Georg-August University of Göttingen by Joos, Hanle, and their colleague Reinhold Mannfopff; the group of physicists was known informally as the first Uranverein (Uranium Club) and formally as Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kernphysik. The group’s work was discontinued in August 1939, when the three were called to military training.
The second Uranverein began after the Heereswaffenamt (HWA, Army Ordnance Office) squeezed out the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR, Reich Research Council) of the Reichserziehungsministerium (REM, Reich Ministry of Education) and started the formal German nuclear energy project under military auspices. The second Uranverein was formed on 1 September 1939, the day World War II began, and it had its first meeting on 16 September 1939. The meeting was organized by Kurt Diebner, advisor to the HWA, and held in Berlin. The invitees included Walther Bothe, Siegfried Flügge, Hans Geiger, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, Gerhard Hoffmann, Josef Mattauch, and Georg Stetter. A second meeting was held soon thereafter and included Klaus Clusius, Robert Döpel, Werner Heisenberg, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. Also at this time, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, after WW II the Max Planck Institute for Physics), in Berlin-Dahlem, was placed under HWA authority, with Diebner as the administrative director, and the military control of the nuclear research commenced.
When it was apparent that the nuclear energy project would not make a decisive contribution to ending the war effort in the near term, control of the KWIP was returned in January 1942 to its umbrella organization, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft (KWG, Kaiser Wilhelm Society, after WW II the Max-Planck Gesellschaft), and HWA control of the project was relinquished to the RFR in July 1942. The nuclear energy project thereafter maintained its kriegswichtig (important for the war) designation and funding continued from the military. However, the German nuclear power project was then broken down into the following main areas: uranium and heavy water production, uranium isotope separation, and the Uranmaschine (uranium machine, i.e., nuclear reactor). Also, the project was then essentially split up between a number of institutes, where the directors dominated the research and set their own research agendas. The dominant personnel and facilities were the following:
Heisenberg was appointed director-in-residence of the KWIP on 1 July 1942, as Peter Debye was still the officially the director and on leave in the United States; Debye had gone on leave as he was a citizen of The Netherlands and had refused to become a German citizen when the HWA took administrative control of the KWIP. Heisenberg still also had his department of physics at the University of Leipzig where work was done for the Uranverein by Robert Döpel and his wife Klara Döpel. During the period Kurt Diebner administered the KWIP under the HWA program, considerable personal and professional animosity developed between Diebner and the Heisenberg inner circle – Heisenberg, Karl Wirtz, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker.
The point in 1942, when the army relinquished its control of the German nuclear energy project, was the zenith of the project relative to the number of personnel devoting time to the effort. There were only about seventy scientists working on the project, with about forty devoting more than half their time to nuclear fission research. After this, the number of scientists working on applied nuclear fission diminished dramatically. Many of the scientists not working with the main institutes stopped working on nuclear fission and devoted their efforts to more pressing war related work.
Over time, the HWA and then the RFR controlled the German nuclear energy project. The most influential people in the project were Kurt Diebner, Abraham Esau, Walther Gerlach, and Erich Schumann. Schumann was one of the most powerful and influential physicists in Germany. Schumann was director of the Physics Department II at the Frederick William University (later, University of Berlin), which was commissioned and funded by the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKW, Army High Command) to conduct physics research projects. He was also head of the research department of the HWA, assistant secretary of the Science Department of the OKW, and Bevollmächtiger (plenipotentiary) for high explosives. Diebner, throughout the life of the nuclear energy project, had more control over nuclear fission research than did Walther Bothe, Klaus Clusius, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, or Werner Heisenberg.
1945: Operation Alsos and Operation Epsilon
was an American effort commanded by the Russian-American Colonel Boris T. Pash
. He reported directly to General Leslie Groves
, commander of the Manhattan Engineer District
, which was developing atomic weapons for the United States. The chief scientific advisor to Operation Alsos was the physicist Samuel Abraham Goudsmit. Goudsmit was selected for this task because of his knowledge of physics, he spoke German, and he personally knew a number of the German scientists working on the German nuclear energy project. He also knew little of the Manhattan Project, so, if he were captured, he would have little intelligence value to the Germans. The objectives of Operation Alsos were to determine if the Germans had an atomic bomb program and to exploit of German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, materiel resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the United States. Personnel on this operation generally swept into areas which had just come under control of the Allied military forces, but sometimes they operated in areas still under control by German forces.
Berlin had been a location of many German scientific research facilities. To limit casualties and loss of equipment, many of these facilities were dispersed to other locations in the latter years of the war. The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) had mostly been moved in 1943 and 1944 to Hechingen and its neighboring town of Haigerloch, on the edge of the Black Forest, which eventually became the French occupation zone. This move and a little luck allowed the Americans to take into custody a large number of German scientists associated with nuclear research. The only section of the institute which remained in Berlin was the low-temperature physics section, headed by Ludwig Bewilogua, who was in charge of the exponential uranium pile.
Nine of the prominent German scientists who published reports in Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte as members of the Uranverein were picked up by Operation Alsos and incarcerated in England under Operation Epsilon: Erich Bagge, Kurt Diebner, Walther Gerlach, Otto Hahn, Paul Harteck, Werner Heisenberg, Horst Korsching, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, and Karl Wirtz. Also, incarcerated was Max von Laue, although he had nothing to do with the nuclear energy project. Goudsmit, the chief scientific advisor to Operation Alsos, thought von Laue might be beneficial to the postwar rebuilding of Germany and would benefit from the high level contacts he would have in England.
Heisenberg had been captured and arrested by Colonel Pash at Heisenberg’s retreat in Urfeld, on 3 May 1945, in what was a true alpine-type operation in territory still under control by German forces. He was taken to Heidelberg, where, on 5 May, he met Goudsmit for the first time since the Ann Arbor visit in 1939. Germany surrendered just two days later. Heisenberg would not see his family again for eight months. Heisenberg was moved across France and Belgium and flown to England on 3 July 1945.
The ten German scientists were held at Farm Hall in England. The facility had been a safe house of the British foreign intelligence MI6. During their detention, their conversations were recorded. Conversation thought to be of intelligence value were transcribed and translated into English. The transcripts were released in 1992. Bernstein has published an annotated version of the transcripts in his book Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recording’s at Farm Hall, along with an introduction to put them in perspective. A complete, unedited publication of the British version of the reports appeared as Operation Epsilon: The Farm Hall Transcripts, which was published in 1993 by the Institute of Physics in Bristol and by the University of California Press in the United States.
On 3 January 1946, the ten Operation Epsilon
detainees were transported to Alswede, Germany, which was in the British occupation zone. Heisenberg settled in Göttingen, also in the British zone. In July, he was named director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Physik
(KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics), then located in Göttingen. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed the Max-Planck Institut für Physik
, in honor of Max Planck
and to assuage political objections to the continuation of the institute. Heisenberg was its director until 1958. In 1958, the institute was moved to Munich, expanded, and renamed Max-Planck-Institut für Physik und Astrophysik
(MPIFA). Heisenberg was its director from 1960 to 1970; in the interim, Heisenberg and the astrophysicist Ludwig Biermann
were co-directors. Heisenberg resigned his directorship of the MPIFA on 31 December 1970. Upon the move to Munich, Heisenberg also became an ordentlicher Professor
(ordinarius professor) at the University of Munich.
Just as the Americans did with Operation Alsos, the Russians inserted special search teams into Germany and Austria in the wake of their troops. Their objective, under the Russian Alsos, was also the exploitation of German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, materiel resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the Soviet Union. One of the German scientists recruited under this Russian operation was the nuclear physicist Heinz Pose, who was made head of Laboratory V in Obninsk. When he returned to Germany on a recruiting trip for his laboratory, Pose wrote a letter to the Werner Heisenberg inviting him to work in Russia. The letter lauded the working conditions in Russian and the available resources, as well as the favorable attitude of the Russians towards German scientists. A courier hand delivered the recruitment letter, dated 18 July 1946, to Heisenberg; Heisenberg politely declined in a return letter to Pose.
In 1947, Heisenberg presented lectures in Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Bristol. Heisenberg also contributed to the understanding of the phenomenon of superconductivity with a paper in 1947 and two papers in 1948, one of them with Max von Laue.
In the period shortly after World War II, Heisenberg briefly returned to the subject of his doctoral thesis, turbulence. Three papers were published in 1948 and one in 1950.
In the post-war period, Heisenberg continued his interests in cosmic-ray showers with considerations on multiple production of mesons. He published three papers in 1949, two in 1952, and one in 1955.
On 9 March 1949, the Deutsche Forschungsrat (German Research Council) was established by the Max-Planck Gesellschaft (MPG, Max Planck Society, successor organization to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft. Heisenberg was appointed president of the Deutsche Forschungsrat. In 1951, the organization was fused with the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft (NG, Emergency Association of German Science) and that same year renamed the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). With the merger, Heisenberg was appointed to the presidium.
In 1952, Heisenberg served as the chairman of the Commission for Atomic Physics of the DFG. Also that year, he headed the German delegation to the European Council for Nuclear Research.
In 1953, Heisenberg was appointed president of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung by Konrad Adenauer. Heisenberg served until 1975. Also, from 1953, Heisenberg’s theoretical work concentrated on the unified field theory of elementary particles.
In the winter of 1955 to 1956, Heisenberg gave the Gifford Lectures at Saint Andrews University, in Scotland, on the intellectual history of physics. The lectures were later published as Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science.
During 1956 and 1957, Heisenberg was the chairman of the Arbeitskreis Kernphysik (Nuclear Physics Working Group) of the Fachkommission II „Forschung und Nachwuchs“ (Commission II “Research and Growth”) of the Deutschen Atomkommission (DAtK, German Atomic Energy Commission). Other members of the Nuclear Physics Working Group in both 1956 and 1957 were: Walther Bothe, Hans Kopfermann (vice-chairman), Fritz Bopp, Wolfgang Gentner, Otto Haxel, Willibald Jentschke, Heinz Maier-Liebnitz, Josef Mattauch, Wolfgang Riezler, Wilhelm Walcher, and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. Wolfgang Paul was also a member of the group during 1957.
In 1957, Heisenberg was a signatory of the manifesto of the Göttinger Achtzehn (Göttingen Eighteen).
From 1957, Heisenberg was interested in plasma physics and the process of nuclear fusion. He also collaborated with the International Institute of Atomic Physics in Geneva. He was a member of the Institute’s Scientific Policy Committee, and for several years was the Committee’s chairman.
In 1973, Heisenberg gave a lecture at Harvard University on the historical development of the concepts of quantum theory.
On March 24, 1973, Heisenberg gave a speech before the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, accepting the Romano Guardini Prize. An English translation of its title is "Scientific and Religious Truth." And its stated goal was "In what follows, then, we shall first of all deal with the unassailability and value of scientific truth, and then with the much wider field of religion, of which--so far as the Christian religion is concerned--Guardini himself has so persuasively written; finally--and this will be the hardest part to formulate--we shall speak of the relationship of the two truths."
Heisenberg died of cancer, at his home, on 1 February 1976.
Heisenberg was awarded a number of honors:
- Honorary doctorates from the University of Bruxelles, the Technological University of Karlsruhe, and the University of Budapest.
- Order of Merit of Bavaria
- Romano Guardini Prize
- Grand Cross for Federal Service with Star
- Knight of the Order of Merit (Peace Class)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of London
- Member of the Academies of Sciences of Göttingen, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Sweden, Rumania, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, Rome (Pontifical), the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina (Halle), the Accademia dei Lincei (Rome), and the American Academy of Sciences.
- 1932–Nobel Prize in Physics “for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen”.
- 1933–Max-Planck-Medaille of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
Werner Heisenberg’s father was Kaspar Ernst August Heisenberg, a secondary school teacher of classical languages, who went on to became Germany’s only ordentlicher Professor
(ordinarius professor) of medieval and modern Greek studies in the university system. His mother was Annie née Wecklein.
In January 1937, Heisenberg met Elisabeth Schumacher at a private music recital. Elisabeth was the daughter of a well-known Berlin economics professor. They were married on April 29. The fraternal twins, Maria and Wolfgang, were born to them in January 1938, whereupon, Wolfgang Pauli congratulated Heisenberg on his “pair creation” – a word play on a process from elementary particle physics, pair production. They had five more children over the next 12 years: Barbara, Christine, Jochen, Martin, and Verena. Jochen became a physics professor at the University of New Hampshire.
Heisenberg enjoyed classical music and was an accomplished pianist.
The following reports were published in Kernphysikalische Forschungsberichte
(Research Reports in Nuclear Physics
), an internal publication of the German Uranverein
. The reports were classified Top Secret, they had very limited distribution, and the authors were not allowed to keep copies. The reports were confiscated under the Allied Operation Alsos
and sent to the United States Atomic Energy Commission
for evaluation. In 1971, the reports were declassified and returned to Germany. The reports are available at the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center
and the American Institute of Physics
- Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Bestimmung der Diffusionslänge thermischer Neutronen in Präparat 38 G-22 (5 December 1940)
- Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Bestimmung der Diffusionslänge thermischer Neutronen in schwerem Wasser G-23 (7 August 1940)
- Werner Heisenberg Die Möglichkeit der technischer Energiegewinnung aus der Uranspaltung G-39 (6 December 1939)
- Werner Heisenberg Bericht über die Möglichkeit technischer Energiegewinnung aus der Uranspaltung (II) G-40 (29 February 1940)
- Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Versuche mit Schichtenanordnungen von D2O und 38 G-75 (28 October 1941)
- Werner Heisenberg Über die Möglichkeit der Energieerzeugung mit Hilfe des Isotops 238 G-92 (1941)
- Werner Heisenberg Bericht über Versuche mit Schichtenanordnungen von Präparat 38 und Paraffin am Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Physik in Berlin-Dahlem G-93 (May 1941)
- Fritz Bopp, Erich Fischer, Werner Heisenberg, Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker, and Karl Wirtz Untersuchungen mit neuen Schichtenanordnungen aus U-metall und Paraffin G-127 (March 1942)
- Robert Döpel Bericht über Unfälle beim Umgang mit Uranmetall G-135 (9 July 1942)
- Werner Heisenberg Bemerkungen zu dem geplanten halbtechnischen Versuch mit 1,5 to D2O und 3 to 38-Metall G-161 (31 July 1942)
- Werner Heisenberg, Fritz Bopp, Erich Fischer, Carl-Friedrich von Weizsäcker, and Karl Wirtz Messungen an Schichtenanordnungen aus 38-Metall und Paraffin G-162 (30 October 1942)
- Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Der experimentelle Nachweis der effektiven Neutronenvermehrung in einem Kugel-Schichten-System aus D2O und Uran-Metall G-136 (July 1942)
- Werner Heisenberg Die Energiegewinnung aus der Atomkernspaltung G-217 (6 May 1943)
- Fritz Bopp, Walther Bothe, Erich Fischer, Erwin Fünfer, Werner Heisenberg, O. Rittter, and Karl Wirtz Bericht über einen Versuch mit 1.5 to D2O und U und 40 cm Kohlerückstreumantel (B7) G-300 (3 January 1945)
- Robert Döpel, K. Döpel, and Werner Heisenberg Die Neutronenvermehrung in einem D2O-38-Metallschichtensystem G-373 (March 1942)
Selected journal articles by Heisenberg
- Cassidy, David C. Werner Heisenberg : A Bibliography of His Writings, Second, Expanded Edition (Whittier, 2001)
- Cassidy, David Werner Heisenberg: A Bibliography of His Writings, 1922-1929, Expanded Edition HTML Version PDF Version
- Mott, N. and R. Peierls Werner Heisenberg, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society Volume 23, 213-251 (1977)
- A. Sommerfeld and W. Heisenberg Eine Bemerkung über relativistische Röntgendubletts und Linienschärfe, Z. Phys. Volume 10, 393-398 (1922)
- A. Sommerfeld and W. Heisenberg Die Intensität der Mehrfachlinien und ihrer Zeeman-Komponenten, Z. Phys. Volume 11, 131-154 (1922)
- M. Born and W. Heisenberg Über Phasenbeziehungen bei den Bohrschen Modellen von Atomen und Molekeln, Z. Phys. Volume 14, 44-55 (1923)
- M. Born and W. Heisenberg Die Elektronenbahnen im angeregten Heliumatom, Z. Phys. Volume 16, 229-243 (1923)
- M. Born and W. Heisenberg Zur Quantentheorie der Molekeln, Ann. d. Physik Volume 74, Number 4, 1-31 (1924)
- W. Heisenberg Über Stabilität und Turbulenz von Flüssigkeitsströmmen (Diss.), Ann. Physik Volume 74, Number 4, 577-627 (1924)
- M. Born and W. Heisenberg Über den Einfluss der Deformierbarekit der Ionen auf optische und chemische Konstanten. I., Z. Phys. Volume 23, 388-410 (1924)
- W. Heisenberg Über eine Abänderung der formalin Regeln der Quantentheorie beim Problem der anomalen Zeeman-Effekte, Z. Phys. Volume 26, 291-307 (1924)
- W. Heisenberg, Über quantentheoretische Umdeutung kinematischer und mechanischer Beziehungen, Zeitschrift für Physik, 33, 879-893 (1925). The paper was received on July 29, 1925. [English translation in: B. L. van der Waerden, editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1 (English title: Quantum-Theoretical Re-interpretation of Kinematic and Mechanical Relations).] This is the first paper in the famous trilogy which launched the matrix mechanics formulation of quantum mechanics.
- M. Born and P. Jordan, Zur Quantenmechanik, Zeitschrift für Physik, 34, 858-888 (1925). The paper was received on September 27, 1925. [English translation in: B. L. van der Waerden, editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1 (English title: On Quantum Mechanics).] This is the second paper in the famous trilogy which launched the matrix mechanics formulation of quantum mechanics.
- M. Born, W. Heisenberg, and P. Jordan, Zur Quantenmechanik II, Zeitschrift für Physik, 35, 557-615 (1925). The paper was received on November 16, 1925. [English translation in: B. L. van der Waerden, editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1] This is the third paper in the famous trilogy which launched the matrix mechanics formulation of quantum mechanics.
- W. Heisenberg Über den anschulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und Mechanik, Z. Phys. Volume 43, 172-198 (1927)
- W. Heisenberg Zur Theorie des Ferromagnetismus, Z. Phys. Volume 49, 619-636 (1928)
- W. Heisenberg and W. Pauli Zur Quantentheorie der Wellenfelder, Z. Phys. Volume 56, 1-61 (1929)
- W. Heisenberg and W. Pauli Zur Quantentheorie der Wellenfelder. II., Z. Phys. Volume 59, 168-190 (1930)
- W. Heisenberg Über den Bau der Atomkerne. I., Z. Phys. Volume 77, 1-11 (1932)
- W. Heisenberg Über den Bau der Atomkerne. II., Z. Phys. Volume 78, 156-164 (1932)
- W. Heisenberg Über den Bau der Atomkerne. III., Z. Phys. Volume 80, 587-596 (1933)
- Werner Heisenberg Bemerkungen zur Diracschen Theorie des Positrons, Zeitschrift für Physik Volume 90, Numbers 3-4, 209-231 (1934). The author was cited as being at Leipzig. The paper was received on 21 June 1934.
- W. Heisenberg Über die ‘Schauer’ in der Kosmischen Strahlung, Forsch. Fortscher. Volume 12, 341-342 (1936)
- W. Heisenberg and H. Euler Folgerungen aus der Diracschen Theorie des Positrons, Zeitschr. Phys. Volume 98, Numbers 11-12, 714-732 (1936). The authors were cited as being at Leipzig. The paper was received on 22 December 1935. A translation of this paper has been done by W. Korolevski and H. Kleinert: arXiv:physics/0605038v1
- W. Heisenberg Zur Theorie der ‘Schauer’ in der Höhenstrahlung, Z. Phys. Volume 101, 533-540 (1936)
- W. Heisenberg Der Durchgang sehr energiereicher Korpuskeln durch den Atomkern, Ber. Sächs, Akad. Wiss. Volume 89, 369; Die Naturwissenschaften Volume 25, 749-750 (1937)
- W. Heisenberg Theoretische Untersuchungen zur Ultrastrahlung, Verh. Stsch. physical. Ges. Volume 18, 50 (1937)
- W. Heisenberg Die Absorption der durchdringenden Komponente der Höhenstrahlung, Ann. Phys. Volume 33, 594-599 (1938)
- W. Heisenberg Der Durchgang sehr energiereicher Korpuskeln durch den Atomkern, Nuovo Cimento Volume 15, 31-34; Verh. Dtsch. physik. Ges. Volume 19, 2 (1938)
- W. Heisenberg Die beobachtbaren Grössen in der Theorie der Elementarteilchen. I., Z. Phys. Volumne 120, 513-538 (1943)
- W. Heisenberg Die beobachtbaren Grössen in der Theorie der Elementarteilchen. II., Z. Phys. Volumne 120, 673-702 (1943)
- W. Heisenberg Die beobachtbaren Grössen in der Theorie der Elementarteilchen. III., Z. Phys. Volumne 123, 93-112 (1944)
- W. Heisenberg Zur Theorie der Supraleitung, Forsch. Fortschr. Volumes 21/23, 243-244 (1947); Z. Naturf. Volume 2a, 185-201 (1947)
- W. Heisenberg Das elektrodynamische Verhalten der Supraleiter, Z. Naturf. Volume 3a, 65-75 (1948)
- M. von Laue and W. Heisenberg Das Barlowsche Rad aus supraleitendem Material, Z. Phys. Volume 124, 514-518 (1948)
- W. Heisenberg Zur statistischen Theorie der Tubulenz, Z. Phys. Volume 124, 628-657 (1948)
- W. Heisenberg On the theory of statistical and isotropic turbulence, Proc. R. Soc. London A Volume 195, 402-406 (1948)
- W. Heisenberg Bemerkungen um Turbulenzproblem, Z. Naturf. Volume 3a, 434-437 (1948)
- W. Heisenberg Production of mesons showers, Nature, Lond. Volume 164, 65-67 (1949)
- W. Heisenberg Die Erzeugung von Mesonen in Vielfachprozessen, Nuovo Cimento Volume 6 (Supplement), 493-497 (1949)
- W. Heisneberg Über die Entstehung von Mesonen in Vielfachprozessen, Z. Phys. Volume 126, 569-582 (1949)
- W. Heisenberg On the stability of laminar flow, Proc. International Congress Mathematicians Volume II, 292-296 (1950)
- W. Heisenberg Bermerkungen zur Theorie der Vielfacherzeugung von Mesonen, Die Naturwissenschaften Volume 39, 69 (1952)
- W. Heisenberg Mesonenerzeugung als Stosswellenproblem, Z. Phys. Volume 133, 65-79 (1952)
- W, Heisenberg The production of mesons in very high energy collisions, Nuovo Cimento Volume 12, Supplement, 96-103 (1955)
- Werner Heisenberg Development of concepts in the history of quantum theory, American Journal of Physics Volume 43, Number 5, 389-394 (1975). The substance of this article was presented by Heisenberg in a lecture at Harvard University.
Selected Books by Heisenberg
- Werner Heisenberg, Carl Eckart (translator), and F.C. Hoyt (translator) The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (Dover, 1930)
- Werner Heisenberg Philosophic problems of nuclear science (Fawcett, 1966)
- Werner Heisenberg Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Converstations (Harper & Row, 1971)
- Werner Heisenberg and Jürgen Busche Quantentheorie und Philosophie: Vorlesungen und Aufsätze (Reclam, 1979)
- Werner Heisenberg Philosophical Problems of Quantum Physics (Ox Bow, 1979)
- Werner Heisenberg Physik und Philosophie: Weltperspektiven. (Ullstein Taschenbuchvlg., 1988)
- Werner Heisenberg Encounters with Einstein (Princeton University, 1989)
- Werner Heisenberg and F. S. C. Northrop Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (Great Minds Series) (Prometheus, 1999)
- Werner Heisenberg Der Teil und das Ganze: Gespräche im Umkreis der Atomphysik (Piper, 2001)
- Werner Heisenberg Deutsche und Jüdische Physik (Piper, 2002)
- Werner Heisenberg Physik und Philosophie (Hirzel, 2007)
- Werner Heisenberg Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2007) (full text of 1958 version)
- Bernstein, Jeremy and David Cassidy Bomb Apologetics: Farm Hall, August 1945, Physics Today Volume 48, Issue 8, Part I, 32-36 (1995)
- Bernstein, Jeremy Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recording’s at Farm Hall (Copernicus, 2001) ISBN 0-387-95089-3
- Bernstein, Jeremy Heisenberg and the critical mass, Am. J. Phys. Volume 70, Number 9, 911-916 (2002)
- Bernstein, Jeremy Heisenberg in Poland, Am. J. Phys. Volume 72, Number 3, 300-304 (2004). See also Letters to the Editor by Klaus Gottstein and a reply by Jeremy Bernstein in Am. J. Phys. Volume 72, Number 9, 1143-1145 (2004).
- Bernstein, Jeremy Max Born and the Quantum Theory, Am. J. Phys. 73 (11) 999-1008 (2005). Department of Physics, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030. Received 14 April 2005; accepted 29 July 2005.
- Bethe, Hans A. The German Uranium Project, Physics Today Volume 53, Issue 7, 34-36
- Beyerchen, Alan D. Scientists Under Hitler: Politics and the Physics Community in the Third Reich (Yale, 1977) ISBN 0-300-01830-4
- Cassidy, David C. Heisenberg, German Science, and the Third Reich, Social Research Volume 59, Number 3, 643-661 (1992)
- Cassidy, David C. Uncertainty: The Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg (Freeman, 1992)
- Cassidy, David C. A Historical Perspective on Copenhagen, Physics Today Volume 53, Issue 7, 28 (2000). See also Heisenberg’s Message to Bohr: Who Knows, Physics Today Volume 54, Issue 4, 14ff (2001), individual letters by Klaus Gottstein, Harry J. Lipkin, Donald C. Sachs, and David C. Cassidy.
- Eckert, Michael Werner Heisenberg: controversial scientist physicsweb.org (2001)
- Goudsmit, Samuel with an introduction by R. V. Jones Alsos (Toamsh, 1986)
- Greenspan, Nancy Thorndike "The End of the Certain World: The Life and Science of Max Born" (Basic Books, 2005) ISBN 0-7382-0693-8. Also published in Germany: Max Born - Baumeister der Quantenwelt. Eine Biographie (Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 2005), ISBN 3-8274-1640-X.
- Heisenberg, Werner Nobel Prize Presentation Speech, Nobelprize.org (1933)
- Heisenberg, Elisabeth Inner Exile: Recollections of a Life with Heisenberg (Birkhäuser, 1984)
- Heisenberg, Werner Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations (Harper & Row, 1971)
- Heisenberg, Werner Die theoretischen Grundlagen für die Energiegewinnung aus der Uranspaltung, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Natruwiessenschaft, Volume 9, 201-212 (1943). See also the annotated English translation: Document 95. Werner Heisenberg. The Theoretical Basis for the Generation of Energy from Uranium Fission [February 26, 1942] in Hentschel, Klaus (editor) and Ann M. Hentschel (editorial assistant and translator) Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) 294-301.
- Heisenberg, Werner Research in Germany on the Technical Applications of Atomic Energy, Nature Volume 160, Number 4059, 211-215 (August 16, 1947). See also the annotated English translation: Document 115. Werner Heisenberg: Research in Germany on the Technical Application of Atomic Energy [August 16, 1947] in Hentschel, Klaus (editor) and Ann M. Hentschel (editorial assistant and translator) Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) 361-379.
- Heisenberg, Werner, introduction by David Cassidy, translation by William Sweet A Lecture on Bomb Physics: February 1942, Physics Today Volume 48, Issue 8, Part I, 27-30 (1995)
- Hentschel, Klaus (editor) and Ann M. Hentschel (editorial assistant and translator) Physics and National Socialism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Birkhäuser, 1996) ISBN 0-8176-5312-0. [This book is a collection of 121 primary German documents relating to physics under National Socialism. The documents have been translated and annotated, and there is a lengthy introduction to put them into perspective.]
- Hentschel, Klaus The Metal Aftermath: The Mentality of German Physicists 1945-1949 (Oxford, 2007)
- Hoffmann, Dieter Between Autonomy and Accommodation: The German Physical Society during the Third Reich, Physics in Perspective 7(3) 293-329 (2005)
- Jammer, Max The Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics (McGraw-Hill, 1966)
- Junk, Robert Brighter Than a Thousand Suns: A personal history of the atomic scientists (Harcourt, Brace, 1958)
- Kant, Horst Werner Heisenberg and the German Uranium Project / Otto Hahn and the Declarations of Mainau and Göttingen, Preprint 203 (Max-Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2002)
- Landsman, N. P. Getting even with Heisenberg, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics Volume 33, 297-325 (2002)
- Macrakis, Kristie Surviving the Swastika: Scientific Research in Nazi Germany (Oxford, 1993)
- Mehra, Jagdish, and Helmut Rechenberg The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 1 Part 2 The Quantum Theory of Planck, Einstein, Bohr and Sommerfeld 1900–1925: Its Foundation and the Rise of Its Difficulties. (Springer, 2001) ISBN 0-387-95175-X
- Mehra, Jagdish and Helmut Rechenberg The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 3. The Formulation of Matrix Mechanics and Its Modifications 1925–1926. (Springer, 2001) ISBN 0-387-95177-6
- Mehra, Jagdish and Helmut Rechenberg The Historical Development of Quantum Theory. Volume 6. The Completion of Quantum Mechanics 1926-1941. Part 2. The Conceptual Completion and Extension of Quantum Mechanics 1932-1941. Epilogue: Aspects of the Further Development of Quantum Theory 1942-1999. (Springer, 2001) ISBN 978-0-387-95086-0
- Mott, N. and R. Peierls Werner Heisenberg, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society Volume 23, 213-251 (1977)
- Norman M. Naimark The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949 (Belkanp, 1995)
- Oleynikov, Pavel V. German Scientists in the Soviet Atomic Project, The Nonproliferation Review Volume 7, Number 2, 1–30 (2000) The author has been a group leader at the Institute of Technical Physics of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70).
- Pash, Boris T. The Alsos Mission (Award, 1969)
- Powers, Thomas Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb (Knopf, 1993)
- Rose, Paul Lawrence, Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project: A Study in German Culture (California, 1998). For a critical review of this book, please see: Landsman, N. P. Getting even with Heisenberg, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics Volume 33, 297-325 (2002).
- Todorv, Ivan Werner Heisenberg (2003)
- van der Waerden, B. L., editor, Sources of Quantum Mechanics (Dover Publications, 1968) ISBN 0-486-61881-1
- Walker, Mark Heisenberg, Goudsmit and the German Atomic Bomb, Physics Today Volume 43, Issue 1, 52-60 (1990)
- Walker, Mark Physics and propaganda: Werner Heisenberg’s foreign lectures under National Socialism, Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences Volume 22, 339-389 (1992)
- Walker, Mark German National Socialism and the Quest for Nuclear Power 1939–1949 (Cambridge, 1993) ISBN 0-521-43804-7
- Walker, Mark Eine Waffenschmiede? Kernwaffen- und Reaktorforschung am Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik, Forschungsprogramm „Geschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus“ Ergebnisse 26 (2005)
- Born, Max The statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics. Nobel Lecture – December 11, 1954.
- Cassidy, David C. Werner Heisenberg : A Bibliography of His Writings, Second, Expanded Edition (Whittier, 2001)
- Dörries, Matthias Michael Frayn's ‘Copenhagen’ in Debate: Historical Essays and Documents on the 1941 Meeting Between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg (University of California, 2005)
- Fischer, Ernst P. Werner Heisenberg: Das selbstvergessene Genie (Piper, 2002)
- Heisenberg, Werner "A Scientist's case for the Classics" (Harper's Magazine, May 1958, p.25-29)
- Heisenberg, Werner Across the Frontiers (Harper & Row, 1974)
- Kleint, Christian and Gerald Wiemer Werner Heisenberg im Spiegel seiner Leipziger Schüler und Kollegen (Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2005)
- Papenfuß, Dietrich, Dieter Lüst, and Wolfgang P. Schleich 100 Years Werner Heisenberg: Works and Impact (Wiley-VCH, 2002)
- Rechenberg, Helmut und Gerald Wiemers Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), Schritte in die neue Physik (Sax-Verlag Beucha, 2001)
- Schiemann, Gregor Werner Heisenberg (C.H. Beck, 2008)
- von Weizsäcker, Carl Friedrich and Bartel Leendert van der Waerden Werner Heisenberg (Hanser, Carl GmbH, 1977)
- Rhodes, Richard The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon and Schuster, 1986)
- Walker, Mark National Socialism and German Physics, Journal of Contemporary Physics Volume 24, 63-89 (1989)
- Walker, Mark Nazi Science: Myth, Truth, and the German Atomic Bomb (Perseus, 1995)
- Walker, Mark German Work on Nuclear Weapons, Historia Scientiarum; International Journal for the History of Science Society of Japan, Volume 14, Number 3, 164-181 (2005)