Murray Gell-Mann - Biography





Murray Gell-Mann is Professor and Co-Chairman of the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute, and author of the popular science book, The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the Simple and the Complex.


In 1969, Professor Gell-Mann received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. Professor Gell-Mann's "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 paticles and their strong interactions.


Besides being a Nobel laureate, Professor 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. He has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from many institutions, including Yale University, the University of Chicago, the University of Turin, Italy, and Cambridge and Oxford Universities, England. 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.


Professor 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 director of the J.D. and C.T. MacArthur Foundation, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Citizen Regent of the Smithsonian, 1974-1988, and a former member of the President's Science Advisory Committee, 1969-1972. He is currently a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.


Although a theoretical physicist, Professor Gell-Mann's interests extend to many other 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 at the Santa Fe Institute has focused on complex adaptive systems, which brings all these areas of study together. He is also concerned about policy matters related to world environmental quality (including conservation of biological diversity), restraint in population growth, sustainable economic development, and stability of the world political system.





Distinguished Fellow and Co-Chair of the Science Board

Santa Fe Institute

Santa Fe, New Mexico


R.A. Millikan Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California



Born September 15, 1929, New York, NY

Married 1955 to J. Margaret Dow, born in Birmingham, England (widowed 1981);

Married 1992 to Marcia Southwick, born in Boston, MA

Children: daughter, Elizabeth Sarah Gell-Mann, born October 21, 1956;

     son, Nicholas Webster Gell-Mann, born July 6, 1963;

     stepson Nicholas Southwick Levis, born October 26, 1978.



B.S. (Physics) June 1948, Yale University (1944-48)

Ph.D. (Physics) January 1951, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1948-50.


Academic Experience

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1951

Research Associate, Univ. of Illinois, Summers 1951 and 1953

Instructor, Asst. Prof., Assoc. Prof. Univ. of Chicago, 1952-54

Visiting Assoc. Prof., Columbia Univ., Fall 1954

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Winter and Spring 1955

Assoc. Prof. 1955-56; Prof.. 1956-67; R. A. Millikan Professor, 1967-93; R.A.

     Millikan Professor Emeritus, 1993-Present, California Institute of Technology

Visiting Prof., Collège de France and Univ. of Paris, 1959-60

Visiting Prof., Massachusetts Inst. of Technology, Spring 1963

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1967-68

Overseas Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge, England, Spring, 1966

Visiting Prof., CERN, Geneva, Switzerland, 1971-72, 1979-80

Visitor, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Fall 1975

Visitor, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Santa Fe Institute, 1992-93

Professor and Distinguished Fellow, Santa Fe Institute, 1993-Present



Professional Societies

Fellow, American Physical Society, 1960-Present

Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1960-Present

Sigma Xi

Phi Beta Kappa

Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1964-Present

Vice President and Chairman, American Academy of Arts and Sciences,

     Western Center, 1970-76

Foreign Member, The Royal Society of London, 1978-Present

Member, Council on Foreign Relations, 1975-Present

Honorary Member, French Physical Society, 1970-Present

Foreign Member, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, 1985-Present

Foreign Member, Indian Academy of Sciences, 1985-Present

Member, American Philosophical Society, 1993-Present

Foreign Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1993-Present

Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1994-Present



Director, J.D. & C.T. MacArthur Foundation, 1979-Present

Chairman, World Environment & Resources Committee, J.D. & C.T. MacArthur

     Foundation, 1982-97

Citizen Regent, Smithsonian Institution, 1974-88

Member, President's Science Advisory Committee, 1969-72

Director, AeroVironment, Inc., 1971-Present

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Aspen Center for Physics, 1973-79

Member, Science and Grants Committee, Leakey Foundation, 1977-80

Laboratory Fellow, Los Alamos National Lab, 1982-Present

Founding Member, Santa Fe Institute; Board of Trustees, 1984-Present; Chairman

     of the Board, 1984-85; Co-Chairman, Science Board, 1985-Present

Fellow, Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

     (CSICOP), 1985-Present

Board Member, Southern California Skeptics, 1985-91

Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Conservation International, 1993-Present

Member, Board of Directors, Lovelace Institutes, 1993-95

Trustee, Wildlife Conservation Society, 1994-Present

Member, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1994-Present


Honors and Awards

Sc.D.(h.c.), Yale University, 1959

Dannie Heineman Prize of American Physical Society, 1959

Ernest O. Lawrence Award, 1966

Sc.D.(h.c.), University of Chicago, 1967

Franklin Medal, Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, 1967

John J. Carty Medal, National Academy of Sciences, 1968

Sc.D.(h.c.), University of Illinois, 1968

Sc.D.(h.c.), Wesleyan University, 1968

Research Corporation Award, 1969

Honorary Doctorate, University of Turin, Italy, 1969

Nobel Prize in Physics, 1969

Sc.D.(h.c.), University of Utah, 1970

Sc.D.(h.c.), Columbia University, 1977

Sc.D.(h.c.), Cambridge University, England, 1980

United Nations Environment Program Roll of Honor for Environmental

     Achievement (The Global 500), 1988

Erice Prize, 1990

Sc.D.(h.c.), Oxford University, 1992

Sc.D.(h.c.), Southern Illinois University, 1993

Sc.D.(h.c.), Southern Methodist University, 1999



Athenaeum, Pasadena, CA

Cosmos, Club, Washington, D.C.

Century Association, New York, NY

Explorers Club, New York, NY




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