Edward Witten: World-Renowned Superstring Theorist and Fields Medal Winner

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In summary, Edward Witten is a leading researcher in superstring theory who received his bachelor's degree in history and linguistics before pursuing graduate studies in physics. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1990 for his contributions to mathematics. While it is unclear if he studied math and physics during his undergraduate studies, he did take five years to complete his PhD in physics after switching from a career in politics. His father, a well-known physicist, may have influenced his interest in the field.
  • #1
Phys988
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Edward Witten is one of the world's leading researchers in superstring theory. He received his bachelor's degree in history (with a minor in linguistics) from Brandeis University, then he completed graduate studies in physics at Princeton University receiving a Ph.D. in physics in 1976. In1990 he was awarded the Fields Medal for his influence on the development of mathematics.(from Wikipedia)

So anyone knows how he shifted from undergraduate history degree to graduate physics degree?! Was he studying physics and math during his undergraduate studies or even before?!
 
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  • #2
Yes, that is something I also allways wanted to know. :confused:

BTW, I would also like to know what historians think about that. Do they think that "It proves that we (the historians) are very clever", or that "It's a pity that such a clever man left history"?
 
  • #3
Phys988 said:
Edward Witten is one of the world's leading researchers in superstring theory. He received his bachelor's degree in history (with a minor in linguistics) from Brandeis University, then he completed graduate studies in physics at Princeton University receiving a Ph.D. in physics in 1976. In1990 he was awarded the Fields Medal for his influence on the development of mathematics.(from Wikipedia)

So anyone knows how he shifted from undergraduate history degree to graduate physics degree?! Was he studying physics and math during his undergraduate studies or even before?!

The full route, in chronological order, goes something like: got a degree in history and linguistics: started grad school in economics; tried a behind-the-scenes career in politics; started grad school in math; started grad school in physics.

Witten's father was a well-known physicist (relativist).
 
  • #4
I heard he worked for the Goldwater campaign.
 
  • #5
I'd actually be more interested to see how long his PhD took him. I wonder if he had a pretty solid background from his father, or if he had to catch up on the basics like EM and classical mechanics?
 
  • #6
It took him 5 years (from the time he decided to switch into physics) to receive his PhD. But that all what you could find through Google. No information whether these 5 years includes undergraduate studies or it was only for graduate studies. If it was only for graduate studies, then you can assume that he was (alongside with history) self studding physics and mathematics (maybe with some help from his father).
 
  • #7
He worked as a speechwriter for the McGovern campaign, not the Goldwater campaign. I'm also curious as to whether he studied math/physics as an undergraduate. Given the fact that he originally enrolled as an applied mathematics graduate student at Princeton, I would say that it's likely he had at least some prior training in mathematics.
 

Related to Edward Witten: World-Renowned Superstring Theorist and Fields Medal Winner

1. Who is Edward Witten?

Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist and one of the most influential scientists in the field of string theory. He is currently a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

2. What is Edward Witten's contribution to science?

Edward Witten is known for his groundbreaking contributions to the development of string theory, a theoretical framework that aims to reconcile the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. He also made significant contributions to the study of supersymmetry, quantum field theory, and mathematical physics.

3. How many awards has Edward Witten received?

Edward Witten has received numerous awards and honors for his work in theoretical physics. These include the Fields Medal, the Dirac Medal, the Albert Einstein Medal, and the National Medal of Science, among others.

4. Is Edward Witten still actively conducting research?

Yes, Edward Witten is still actively conducting research and is considered one of the leading experts in the field of string theory. He continues to publish papers and give lectures on his latest findings and theories.

5. How has Edward Witten's work impacted the scientific community?

Edward Witten's work has had a significant impact on the scientific community, particularly in the field of theoretical physics. His contributions to string theory have revolutionized our understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe and have opened up new avenues for research in this field. He has also inspired and mentored many young scientists, making a lasting impact on the future of physics.

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