Greatest living physicist?

  • #26
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I wouldn't call Penrose's "The Road to Reality" a "pop-science" book.
How about "the emperor's new mind" ? If Penrose wrote a single "pop-science" book, considering we all know he wrote serious articles and textbooks, what is your point ?
 
  • #27
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How about "the emperor's new mind" ? If Penrose wrote a single "pop-science" book, considering we all know he wrote serious articles and textbooks, what is your point ?
Have you read "The Read to Reality"? I'm saying it's not a "pop-science" book but it's not a textbook either. Only someone with a diverse mathematical background (or a tutor) can read it all the way through with full comprehension. This doesn't describe the general college educated population (which is the market for "pop-sci"). I happen to agree with you that Penrose is an outstanding thinker and writer. Why the attitude? I think this book is in a class by itself.
 
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  • #28
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Have you read "The Read to Reality"?
I bought it twice for myself (have it in two private libraries separated by an ocean), offered it 3 times to several friends, read it once word per word, and keep re-reading chapters fairly often. It is a jewel.

Point remains : he wrote other books, such as "The emperor new mind", likely to be picked up by "pop-sci" fans. It so happens that "pop-sci" fans are unlikely (statistically) to read technical papers, so they are unlikely to understand the difference between Greene's "Elegant universe" (a loss of time to read) and Randall's "Warped Passages" (a quite pleasant account of string theory, but not only). However once one is familiar with their respective contributions and influences to their professional field, it's hardly a surprise that the quality of their books is so different.
 
  • #29
Ivan Seeking
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I bought it twice for myself (have it in two private libraries separated by an ocean), offered it 3 times to several friends, read it once word per word, and keep re-reading chapters fairly often. It is a jewel.
Wow, sounds like I had better read that one.
 
  • #30
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We just missed John Archibald Wheeler!
 
  • #31
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How about Juan Maldacena ? He's been top-top-cited over the last few years ? Do you care about Mikhail Shifman's sum rules ? They're pretty clever. Is Sacha Polyakov dead, or hiding behind Nathan Seiberg ? They say Alan H. Guth is still alive too. It would be super if Gordon Kane could join, but no string attached as Savas Dimopoulos used to say. Hey, was that Kenneth Wilson over that lattice ? Fortunately, they did not forget Yoichiro Nambu.
 
  • #33
You see, there is a reason those two wrote really good books. The reason people pick Hawking (please check spelling) and Penrose is related to the absurdity of the initial question. One usually is forced to assume we are talking about fundamental physicists, merely to restrict the list of possible names. In a precise, even almost technical (yet simple), sense, Hawking and Penrose have made seminal contributions to the study of space and time. Hawking from the quantum point of view, and Penrose from the Relativity point of view.

Your two picks are excellent physicists for sure. Bardeen was, in a precise sense, the best physicist alive at some point : in the evaluation of the Nobel committee.
Why the hell should we only chose "fundamental" physicists? Especially today where most of "fundamental" physics is entirely unprovable. Is this more of this go string (or LQG) or go home nonsense?

What about Walter Kohn?
 
  • #34
George Jones
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Uh. Hate to break this to you dude but Wheeler's dead.
I think by "just missed," Loren Booda meant that John Wheeler died not long ago (April 13, 2008), and thus doesn't qualify for this thread.
 
  • #35
Kurdt
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Everyone is entitled to their opinion maverick. There is no point in getting wound up about it.
 
  • #36
George Jones
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Will Zefram Cochran be a physicist or an engineer. If physicist, in 21 years I'll necropost in this thread and nominate him.
 
  • #37
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Will Zefram Cochran be a physicist or an engineer. If physicist, in 21 years I'll necropost in this thread and nominate him.
Wasn't it 2063 when he made his first warp flight? :tongue:
 
  • #38
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Why the hell should we only chose "fundamental" physicists? Especially today where most of "fundamental" physics is entirely unprovable. Is this more of this go string (or LQG) or go home nonsense?
Read the thread. I was asked and answered the very same question. Because the question is absurd. One has to choose where to stop the list, and if there is a side of physics, it's not technical. Actually, if you think about it, Connes is not a physicist.
 
  • #39
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nobody seems to be bothered by me using fourier's name! :tongue2: (maybe because he's been dead for ~150yrs)

Wasn't it 2063 when he made his first warp flight? :tongue:
speaking of warp flight, what about miguel alcubierre? it was his http://omnis.if.ufrj.br/~mbr/warp/alcubierre/cq940501.pdf" [Broken]
 
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  • #40
Read the thread. I was asked and answered the very same question. Because the question is absurd. One has to choose where to stop the list, and if there is a side of physics, it's not technical. Actually, if you think about it, Connes is not a physicist.

And what, condensed matter isn't physics?
 
  • #41
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And what, condensed matter isn't physics?
That's certainly not what I said. One can make a list of professional physicists the end of which is rather clear on one side (at the border between mathematics and physics) but which goes in many directions and in each of them it is hard to decide where it ends on the other side. Do you count electronics in condensed matter ? How about high precision magnetic measurements ? This is quite an important field both in terms of support to many other physics categories and also in terms of future developments.

Again : if you want to cut a list, it is natural to cut it starting from the well defined side.
 
  • #42
That's certainly not what I said. One can make a list of professional physicists the end of which is rather clear on one side (at the border between mathematics and physics) but which goes in many directions and in each of them it is hard to decide where it ends on the other side. Do you count electronics in condensed matter ? How about high precision magnetic measurements ? This is quite an important field both in terms of support to many other physics categories and also in terms of future developments.

Again : if you want to cut a list, it is natural to cut it starting from the well defined side.
I don't think that makes sense at all. Just because definitions get a little vague a certain distance from a "solid" boundary (although let's face it, the distinction between some "fundamental" physics and applied math are just as dodgy as a disinction between quantum physics and quantum chemistry or material physics and material science) most definetly does not suggest that you should confine yourself to with a hair's width of your "solid" boundary. That's like saying that if we agree that light of 700nm wavelength is "red" then one should not consider 701nm or 699nm. Sure it may get a little dicy when one gets to the mid 720nm's but it is just silly to neglect the entire spectrum.

By your logic, the development of BEC would be "best physicist" worthy (since Einstein did "fundamental") but the development of superfluidity would not (sorry Landau). I say at the very least that anyone who has won a Nobel prize IN PHYSICS should be worth of consideration as the "greatest" physicist. Even if they didn't do string theory.
 
  • #43
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I agree with you. That's part of the reasons why I deemed the initial question absurd. I was only trying to explain motivations behind the initial question and the usual answers one gets in the countless threads we already had.
 
  • #44
EnumaElish
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IMO Weinberg as the greatest, and 't Hooft and Wilczek for being cool guys. I don't particularly like Freeman Dyson due to his religious views and his views on global warming.
What is wrong with his religous views and his views on Global Warming? Quite frankly, Weinberg seems like an ******* and Dyson seems like a cool guy.

"I'm heretical because I was studying climate change at least 30 years ago before it became fashionable"

-Dyson

Dyson was being published on climate change before Al Gore even heard of it.
Dyson has both praise and criticism of Weinberg in this NYRB review of Weinberg's book "Lake Views": http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/what-price-glory/
 
  • #45
hi

i'm curious what you guys think of popular scientists like Stephen Hawking or Brian Greene, how important are their works in their respective field
 
  • #46
mheslep
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In your opinion. Or who is your favorite. Freeman Dyson is my favorite. I think he is the best too.:!!)
Dr Dyson still shows up at my shop two or three times a year for a seminar/conference. Still ambulating, if slowly.
 
  • #47
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My choice is Glauber.
 

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