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John Wheeler 1911-2008

 Automatic translation  Automatic translation Category: biography
Updated June 01, 2013

The American physicist John Archibald Wheeler was born in Jacksonville, Fla., July 9, 1911.
In 1933, John Archibald Wheeler has not yet 22 years old when he received his doctorate in physics at Johns Hopkins. He does his research thesis on the theory of dispersion and absorption of helium. John is an expert in nuclear fission, and the international scientific community will consider Wheeler, as the physicist physicists. He attended the great figures of modern physics, like Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein.
In 1939 he co-authored the first article on the theory of nuclear fission, with the great Danish physicist, Niels Bohr. Like him, he is concerned about philosophical questions about the nature of the cosmos and the place of humans in the universe.
During World War II, Wheeler, along with many other physicists, interrupted his academic career to participate in developing the American atomic bomb.
He worked on the Hanford Site in Washington, for the Manhattan Project, where several large nuclear reactors were built to produce plutonium for the atomic bomb. Wheeler also revived interest in general relativity.
He even tries to complete the massive project on the unified theory so dear to Einstein, but without success, gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and weak outside its curved space-time. According to Einstein, these four forces are probably different manifestations of a single force.
Even today these four forces remain unified. But Wheeler's work on general relativity included the theory of gravitational collapse. It is from this theory that the term "black hole" was coined during a lecture he gave at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in 1967.


In 1969, Wheeler received the Franklin Medal with Bohr. We are indebted to Wheeler, the Harrison-Wheeler equation describing nuclear matter at high densities.
In neutron stars, unlike the regular planets and stars, magnetic fields are super powerful, so powerful that they warp to the atoms make up matter.
John Wheeler popularized the term black hole to describe what was called at the time, "stars occluded."
From 1930 to 1978 he was professor at Princeton. Its priority is teaching young minds, he considers the most important and one of his graduate students, there were Richard Feynman, Kip Thorne and Hugh Everett Jacob Bekenstein. He also directed the thesis of Everett who introduced the interpretation of quantum mechanics known as the "multiple universes".
From 1976 to 1986, Wheeler is director of the Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of Texas. In 1997, Wheeler received the Wolf Prize in physics.
John Archibald Wheeler died of pneumonia 96 years, April 13, 2008 in Hightstown, New Jersey.

Image: John Wheeler has influenced the generation of physicists who have made contributions to quantum mechanics, he popularized the term black hole to describe what was called at the time, stars occluded. Wheeler was a pioneer of quantum gravity, with Bryce Dewitt, and the theory of nuclear fission with Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi.

 John Wheeler 1911-2008

The thoughts of John Wheeler


The spirit tormented John Wheeler: "We can talk about people like Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Confucius...
But what really convinced me that they had existed, it was my conversations with Niels Bohr."
It will reflect deeply on the role of the observer in quantum mechanics and even the idea of evolutionary creation of the universe and consciousness.
Sometimes found in his writings references to Hindu philosophy. In his philosophical speculations, some of his colleagues wondered if Wheeler had not become a little crazy. This led him also to be found in the information theory, the roots of the laws of physics. Again, Wheeler shows his visionary genius because it is an active field of current research, especially work on quantum information. Wheeler is tormented by the complexity of the Universe that defies the human mind. Nevertheless he trusts the capabilities of humanity to discover the secrets of the universe.
"It is from a small matter, every particle, every field of force, space-time itself, creates its function, its meaning, its entire existence, although in some cases the computer machines that meet yes or no."


"This 'little', which symbolizes the idea that each element of the physical world very deeply, in most cases, an intangible source, which we call the reality that emerges from the analysis of yes or no , recorded by the machines, in short, that all things physical are information theory on the origin and it is a participatory universe."
"We still live in the infancy of the human race, every walk of life that are molecular biology, DNA, cosmology, just beginning to open. We are just children looking for answers and as extending the island of knowledge, grow as the shores of our ignorance "
"Surely one day, hopefully, we will take the central idea behind everything. It is so simple, so beautiful, so compelling that we will then say:"
Oh, how would it have been otherwise! How have we done to be blind so long! "


Video: John Wheeler has reflected deeply on the role of the observer in quantum mechanics and even the idea of evolutionary creation of the universe and consciousness. Interview in English.

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