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Living and teaching in New Mexico


Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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I've had some very successful students. Jim Hartle is my student, Sid Coleman was my student, Ken Wilson was my student—he certainly did pretty well. He didn't learn a great deal from me, but a very smart fellow. Don Dubois at Los Alamos was a very good student who had an excellent career. Oh, there've been quite a number. I don't think they mostly owed a tremendous amount to me. I was not, I think, a great, effective teacher, say like Robert, Robert Oppenheimer who brought quantum mechanics to this… one of the few people who brought quantum mechanics to this country, who taught it, who… so that the next generation of theorists were basically all his students, that sort of thing. I… I didn't have that kind of role, but… but I certainly had some wonderful people as students.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Los Alamos, Jim Hartle, Sid Coleman, Ken Wilson, Don DuBois, Robert Oppenheimer

Duration: 57 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010