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Murray Gell-Mann

Murray Gell-MannBorn: 15-Sep-1929
Birthplace: Manhattan, NY
Died: 24-May-2019
Location of death: Santa Fe, NM
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Quarks and strangeness

American theoretical physicist Murray Gell-Mann developed the concept of strangeness for particles in 1953, explaining with a quantum number why some hadrons decay rapidly by the strong nuclear force while others decay more slowly by the weak force, contrary to previous theories. This curious difference in decay rates amounts to about one hundred-millionth of a second. In 1961 he proposed the Eightfold way, a new classification system for baryons (heavy subatomic particles) to explain the almost infinitely complex kinds of particles in collisions involving atomic nuclei. In 1964 he discovered the quark, omega-minus particles believed to be fundamental building blocks of neutrons, protons, and matter itself. This discovery strengthened evidence for the Eightfold Way, brought that theory into widespread acceptance, and brought Gell-Mann the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1969.

He has said that the word quark was borrowed from James Joyce in Finnegans Wake. His discovery of the quark was concurrent but independent of the work of George Zweig (1937-), and his elucidation of the Eightfold way was also explained independently by Yuval Ne'eman (1925-2006). As a young man he studied under Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. At CalTech he worked down the hall from Richard Feynman and arguably made greater contributions to physics, as their early friendship faded to frustration and a feud (at least on Gell-Mann's part) by the 1980s. In 1984 he was a co-founder of the Santa Fe Institute, a center for theoretical research.

Father: Isidore Gell-Mann ("Arthur", taught English as a second language)
Mother: Pauline Reichstein
Brother: Benedict Gelman (photographer, reporter)
Wife: J. Margaret Dow (m. 19-Apr-1955, d. 1981, one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Elizabeth Sarah Gell-Mann (b. 21-Oct-1956)
Son: Nicholas Webster Gell-Mann (b. 6-Jul-1963)
Wife: Marcia Southwick (m. 1992, div., one stepson)
Son: Nicholas Southwick Levis (stepson, b. 26-Oct-1978)

    High School: Columbia Grammar School, New York, NY (1944)
    University: BS Physics, Yale University (1948)
    University: PhD Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1951)
    Scholar: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1951)
    Scholar: University of Illinois (1952-53)
    Teacher: University of Chicago (1952-54)
    Scholar: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1955-56)
    Teacher: California Institute of Technology (1955-56)
    Professor: California Institute of Technology (1956-67)
    Scholar: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1967-68)
    Professor: R. A. Millikan Professor, California Institute of Technology (1967-93)
    Administrator: Founding Member, Santa Fe Institute (1984)
    Professor: Santa Fe Institute (1993-)

    Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics 1959
    E. O. Lawrence Award 1966
    Benjamin Franklin Medal 1967 (by the Franklin Institute)
    John J. Carty Medal 1968
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1969
    Research Corporation Award 1969
    Erice Science for Peace Prize 1989
    Albert Einstein Medal 2005
    Humanist of the Year 2005
    American Association for the Advancement of Science 1994
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1964
    American Philosophical Society 1993
    American Physical Society 1960
    Century Association
    Cosmos Club
    Council on Foreign Relations 1975
    Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Fellow
    CSICOP 1985-present
    Explorers Club
    French Physical Society 1970 (Foreign Member)
    Indian Academy of Sciences 1985 (Foreign Member)
    International Academy of Humanism Laureate
    John Kerry for President
    Los Alamos National Laboratory (1982-)
    MacArthur Foundation Director (1979-2002)
    National Academy of Sciences 1960
    Pakistan Academy of Sciences 1985 (Foreign Member)
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    RAND Corporation Consultant
    Royal Society 1978 (Foreign Member)
    Russian Academy of Sciences 1993 (Foreign Member)
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    Smithsonian Institution Regent (1974-88)
    Wildlife Conservation Society 1994
    The Third Culture
    Austrian Ancestry
    Hungarian Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Ukrainian Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Eightfold Way (1964, non-fiction, with Yuval Ne'eman)
Broken Scale Invariance and the Light Cone (1971, non-fiction, with Kenneth Wilson)
The Discovery of Subatomic Particles (1983, non-fiction)
The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex (1994, non-fiction)
The Regular and the Random (2002, non-fiction)
Murray Gell-Mann: Selected Papers (2009, non-fiction)

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