Born: 11 December 1882, Breslau (now Wroclaw), Germany (now Poland)
Died: 5 January 1970, Göttingen, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for his fundamental research in quantum mechanics, especially for his statistical interpretation of the wavefunction"
Field: quantum mechanics
Prize share: 1/2
In Niels Bohr's theory of the atom, electrons absorb and emit radiation of fixed wavelengths when jumping between orbits around a nucleus. The theory provided a good description of the spectrum created by the hydrogen atom, but needed to be developed to suit more complicated atoms and molecules. Following Werner Heisenberg's initial work around 1925, Max Born contributed to the further development of quantum mechanics. He also proved that Erwin Schrödinger's wave equation could be interpreted as giving statistical (rather than exact) predictions of variables.