Murray Gell-Mann is an American physicist who is credited with the introduction of the concept of quarks. He won the 1969 Nobel Prize for physics for his groundbreaking work on the description and classification of subatomic particles. Gell-Mann is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of the 20th century.
Early Life and Education:
Born in 1929 in Manhattan, New York City, Murray Gell-Mann was a very gifted student who entered Yale University when he was only 15. He acquired a B.S. degree in physics in 1948, and earned his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951. His doctoral thesis on subatomic particles greatly inspired the works of Hungarian American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner.
Contributions and Achievements:
Murray Gell-Mann started working at the Institute for Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago in 1952, where he introduced the concept of “strangeness”, a quantum property and the force that holds the components of the atomic nucleus, in 1953. He became a member of the faculty of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena in 1955, and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1967.
While working with fellow physicist Yuval Ne’eman, in 1961, Gell-Mann suggested a scheme for the classification of previously discovered strongly interacting particles into a basic and proper arrangement of families. He hypothesized that it should be achievable to elaborate on the specific properties of known particles in terms of even more fundamental particles. He later termed these basic particles of matter as “quarks”, which later led to the 1964 discovery of the omega-minus particle.
Murray Gell-Mann served as a director of the MacArthur Foundation for 23 years, from 1979 to 2002. He was also a member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 to 2001.