Murray Gell-Mann

2004 William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement

gell-mannMurray Gell-Mann, distinguished fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, which he helped found, 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." 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. Gell-Mann is the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he taught from 1955-1993. His 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. Gell-Mann is also the author of the popular science book The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the Simple and the Complex.