Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck, theoretical physicist, was born on this day in 1858. He had a distinguished career as an intellectual, founding the field of quantum theory, supporting Albert Einstein’s work on Theory of Relativity, and winning the Nobel Prize in 1918. He was first recipient of the newly organized Max Planck Medal which saluted scientists who contributed to the field of theoretical physics. His head appeared on German currency and he had an asteroid named after him.

Ultimately he postulated Planck’s Law, which stated “the spectral radiance of electromagnetic radiation at all wavelengths emitted in the normal direction from a black body at temperature T” according to Wikipedia.

During World War II Planck remained in Berlin throughout the war until air raids forced him to retreat to the countryside. He was no Nazi, and took a lot of heat for supporting Einstein’s “Jewish” theories. Ultimately his son Erwin was implicated in the July 20 Plot and executed. Plank died in 1947. A year after his death, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (formerly known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society) was renamed in his honor.

And so, Max, happy birthday!