In Breaking Bad, Walter White chooses to go by Heisenberg. I know that there has to be some significance behind both why Walt chose the name and why the writers chose that name as opposed to any other physicist's. It would make sense for it to have something to do with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which postulates (in broad strokes) that any system is fundamentally unstable on a short enough time frame. The connection between that and Walt's specific character eludes me though.
Because of the "uncertainty principle" which was created by the real Heisenberg and other similarities to Walter White.
As stated in this article
First of all, like Mr. White, Werner Heisenberg was a teacher. In fact, in 1927, he was appointed ordentlicher Professor (ordinarius professor) of theoretical physics and the head of the department of physics at the Leipzig University. In 1932, Heisenberg picked up the Nobel Prize for Physics for his theory of quantum mechanics — but what he's most famous for (arguably) is his Uncertainty Principle. I don't claim to fully understand this by any means, but here's what I gather: It's impossible to exactly measure both the position and the speed of a particle, because to measure the position, you'd have change the particle's speed, and to measure the speed, you'd have to affect its position. The Principle is also sometimes loosely interpreted as "we cannot know the present with enough precision in order to predict the future with certainty." I mean, right? Better call Saul.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle may also be an interesting metaphor for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. You can't affect one of them without affecting the other. As the series has progressed, every time our master cook and his sous-chef try to part ways, they're brought back together, both willingly and unwillingly. Kind of like magnets, bitch!
And also the cancer
One more notable similarity, and a striking difference: Like Walter White, Heisenberg had the big C. On February 1, 1976, the scientist succumbed to cancer of the kidneys and gall bladder.
If you think about when he first stated his name it was after his encounter with Tuco. At that point he is contrasting his old self to his new self meaning he knows his position, but not of his momentum. Or, he is uncertain of what his new momentum will do to his position. This is basically the uncertainty principle. This is also just my speculation.
Wikipedia for Uncertainty Principle by Heisenberg says that "the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice-versa." Kind sums up the situation, nobody knew what Walter would do next and how he would do it. Also, he required to come up with a name when confronting Tuco for the first time and what better a name than Heisenberg.
Just to state some examples:
- He bombs Tuco's office with a crystal. None of us saw that coming.
- He lets Jane die. Again, none of us thought he wouldn't save her.
- He poisoned the little kid with Lily of the Valley.
- Lastly, and most importantly, he cooked the finest meth. I mean, a chemistry teacher who works at car service station with little money to live on, cooks Meth! So awesome.
and a lot more situations where Walt just rocked!
I think this was because of Oppenheimer. Anybody heard of him? He and Heisenberg were two leading scientists in the field of making atom bomb. They were the best. Arch rivals I'm talking. So, Heisenberg was way ahead than Oppenheimer in making the bomb. But his lab caught on fire and then Hitler asked him to abandon this atom bomb project or something because by that time Oppenheimer (he was American) already successfully tested the bomb.
So, Oppenheimer got the credit and Heisenberg did not. In the same way, Gray Matter company was way more successful than Walter White but Walter had more potential than them. So he chose Heisenberg because Gray Matter was his Oppenheimer.