Murray Gell-Mann

California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
Theoretical physicist; Educator
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
His current research focuses on plectics, a broad transdisciplinary subject covering aspects of simplicity and complexity as well as the properties of complex adaptive systems, including composite systems consisting of many adaptive agents. In 1969, he received the 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 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. His own story of finding the connections between the simple basic laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world can be explored in his book, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex (W.H. Freeman, 1994)
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