WHEELER, JOHN / Physics / Researchers

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Physics / WHEELER, JOHN


Position

John Wheeler is one of the finest American theoretical physicists.

Professor Emeritus at the Center for Relativity at the University of Texas, Austin, U.S.A.

Research interests

He has done a great deal to increase the understanding of black holes while utilizing the concepts of relativity.

In 1939, he worked with Niels Bohr and co-authored an article on nuclear fission. He was the leader of the U.S. team that sought to create the first hydrogen bomb. In the 1950's he found new solutions to Einstein's gravitational equations of importance in astrophysics. In the 1960s he pioneered studies involving gravitational collapse, neutron stars and Black Holes (a name he invented). More recently Wheeler has proposed and analyzed "delayed choice" experiments. In them a difference in what one measures on the particle -- or photon -- now makes an irretrievable difference in what one has the right to say the particle already did in the past. This effect, which makes it impossible to monitor the events of nature with complete detachment, he calls "observer-participancy".

Prizes and awards

Wheeler is past president of the American Physical Society, recipient of the Albert Einstein Prize of the Strauss Foundation (1965), the Enrico Fermi Award for his work on nuclear fission (presented by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968), the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute (1969), and the National Medal of Science (1971), as well as numerous honorary degrees.

Publications

He is the author of many scientific articles and author or co-author of six books. His famous, monumental 1280-page text "Gravitation" (1973) was written in collaboration with his former students Kip Thorne and Charles Misner; his most recent, "Frontiers of Time", appeared in 1979.

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