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Her famous Grandad.

She had great admiration for her Grandad, although he died when she was only two years old. He was a famous man, after all, a Nobel Prize winner.

He was born in 1882 in Breslau, which today is in Poland, but in those days was part of Silesia in the German Empire. His parents were upper class and would certainly have educated their son well, but who in his early life would have predicted his utter genius? By age 25 he had received his doctorate, and by his early thirties, he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Berlin and developing a lifelong friendship with Albert Einstein. He settled down to married life and fatherhood and ultimately established one of the most important centers of theoretical physics at the University of Gottingen.

There was just one little hitch. Our brilliant professor was Jewish, although a practicing Lutheran. On April 7, 1933, two months after Adolf Hiltler became Chancellor of Germany, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service went into effect. Immediately all public servants of Jewish heritage were fired from their jobs. Our professor was stripped of his PhD, his position, and his citizenship, as were hundreds of his contemporaries. And just like that Germany deprived itself of countless brilliant scientists and academics. Sixty-four of the world’s top physicists fled to the U.S. and U.K., eight of whom would ultimately be Nobel Prize winners. Our now-former professor landed at the University of Edinburgh where he spent the rest of his career and received the Nobel Prize in 1954.

Who was this brilliant professor? Dr. Max Born, considered by many the Father of Quantum Physics. And the proud granddaughter? Someone perhaps better known to us… Olivia Newton John.


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