Ed Witten's early years?

Does anyone know about Witten's early years such when he was in High School and University? He didn't even do physics as an undergrad and instead majored in history and minored in Linguistics. Apparently he tried other things after his BA like politics, economics and mathematics before finally settling into physics in grad school. How does someone be accepted into physics grad school without a physics undergraduate degree? How did he become a physics professor with only around 7 years of experience doing physics (presumably he had not done phyiscs in high school)?
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He is certainly quite amazing. I wonder how he was able to pick up physics so quickly. Why didn't he do it earlier? Why did he decide to drop out of the maths postgrad?
Why don't you ask him yourself:


If he is too busy to respond, ask one of his research buddies.

John G.

George Jones

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Science Advisor
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A. Zee, in the preface to his book Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell, tells the following story about Witten.

A. Zee said:
The genesis of this book goes back to the quantum field theory course I taught as a beginning assistant professor at Princeton University. I had the enormous good fortune of having Ed Witten as my teaching assistant and grader. Ed produced lucidly written solutions to the homework problems I assigned, to the extent that the next year I went to the chairman to ask "What is wrong with the TA I have this year? He is not half as good as the guy last year!"
I feel sorry for the guy who had to fill Witten's shoes.


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