Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Mathematicians Who Became Physicists

  1. Apr 12, 2013 #1
    I know of mainly two famous physicists who came from a distinguishly mathematical background:
    Freeman Dyson
    Roger Penrose

    I'm sure there have been many, many, many others, so could anyone name me some more physicists who came from a mathematics background?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2013 #2
    Neumann, although some might not agree he was a physicist.
  4. Apr 13, 2013 #3
    where do you draw the line anyway? Hilbert did some work on general relativity & I think kinetic theory of gases.
  5. Apr 13, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Fourier should come into this somehow?
  6. Apr 13, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, he has his place in the series.
  7. Apr 13, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Or engineers developing mathematics such as Harry Nyquist.

    People shouldn't necessarily be pegged as one thing or another. One can do mathematics, physics, or engineering, depending what hat one wants to wear at at the time. No individual has to exclusively choose a single one at the expense of the others.
  8. Apr 15, 2013 #7
    I'm responding simply because I think this post is worthy of recognition.
  9. Apr 15, 2013 #8
    I'll second that.
  10. Apr 15, 2013 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    True. People can often be recognized for their work that some might feel is "outside their field". That's OK.
  11. Apr 15, 2013 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    To further expound on this, I was going to use Josiah Willard Gibbs as an example. He was awarded the first PhD in engineering in America, and contributed quite impressively (understatement) to many other fields.
  12. Apr 15, 2013 #11


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Newton - calculus, laws of motion, gravity
    Lagrange - calculus of variations, Lagrangian formulation of mechanics
    Hamilton - quaternions, Hamiltonian formulation of mechanics
    Poincare - topology, symmetries of electrodynamics, stability of solar system
    Kolmogorov, Arnold, Moser - stability of solar system
    Ruelle, Takens - strange attractor, turbulence
    Elie Cartan - differential geometry, general relativity
    Birkhoff - ergodic theory, general relativity
    Goedel - logic, general relativity
    Yau - differential geometry, positive energy theorem
    Arthur Jaffe - quantum field theory
    Barry Simon - quantum field theory
    Tadeusz Balaban - Yang-Mills theory
    Peter Shor - quantum computation
    Michael Freedman - topology, topological quantum computation
    Andrew Hodges - twistors
    John Baez - spin foams
    Kevin Costello - quantum field theory
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Mathematicians Who Became Physicists