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November 12, 2004
Murray Gell-Mann Receives Sigma Xi's Procter Prize
MONTREAL -- Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann, distinguished fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, received Sigma Xi's 2004 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement at the Society's annual meeting here.
Each year Sigma Xi awards the Procter Prize to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to scientific research and has demonstrated the ability to communicate this research to scientists in other disciplines. The award includes a $5,000 grant to a young colleague of the recipient's choice.
A theoretical physicist, Gell-Mann is the author of the popular science book The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the Simple and the Complex. He was inducted into Sigma Xi in 1947.
He received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. His "eightfold way" theory brought order to the chaos created by the discovery of some 100 particles in the atom's nucleus.
Then he found that all of those particles, including the neutron and proton, are composed of fundamental building blocks that he named "quarks." The quarks are permanently confined by forces coming from the exchange of "gluons."
He and others later constructed the quantum field theory of quarks and gluons, called "quantum chromodynamics," which seems to account for all the nuclear particles and their strong interactions.
Among other honors, Gell-Mann has received the Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Research Corporation Award and the John J. Carty medal of the National Academy of Sciences.
In 1988 he was listed on the United Nations Environmental Program Roll of Honor for Environmental Achievement (the Global 500). In 1994 he shared the 1989 Erice "Science For Peace" Prize.
Gell-Mann is the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he taught from 1955 until 1993. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1979 until 2002, he was was a director of the J.D. and C.T. MacArthur Foundation. He was a member of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution from 1974 until 1988.
A fellow of the American Physical Society, he is also a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1969-1972). He was a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 until 2003.
Gell-Mann's interests extend to many subjects, including natural history, historical linguistics, archaeology, history, depth psychology, and creative thinking, all subjects connected with biological evolution, cultural evolution, and learning and thinking.
His recent research has focused on the theory of complex adaptive systems, which brings all these areas of study together. He is also concerned about policy matters related to world environmental quality, restraint in population growth, sustainable economic development and stability of the world political system.
He helped to found the World Resources Institute and the Santa Fe Institute. Recently, he was instrumental in starting the project at SFI on the Evolution of Human Languages.