Physicists famous for not-physics

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Terlouw is also famous for his childeren books)In summary, the conversation discussed the idea of famous people who had physics degrees but became well-known in other fields. Some examples mentioned were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Bengali film director Satyajit Ray. Other suggestions included Brian May, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and Stephen Fry, who was rumored to have a degree in physics. The conversation also mentioned well-known mathematicians such as Joseph Lagrange, Carl Gauss, and Leonhard Euler, who had a significant impact in physics. Some other notable figures mentioned were sci-fi writers Gregory Benford and Alastair Reynolds, philosopher René Descartes, and theologist Pascal. It was also
  • #1
flamenco
Hi, guys,

Just found out that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a trained physicist. Made me remember that the Bengali film director Satyajit Ray was also one. Which makes me think there are probably hundreds of physicists out there who made their names in some other field. Physicist-Novelist? Physicist-Cold war spy? Physicist-NBA star?

However 30 minutes with a search engine = zero return. So maybe this is the right place to pose the question: can you name someone with a physics degree who became famous for something else?

Operative word here is "famous," as I'm sure there are just as many obscure physicists laboring in non-physics. And the more distant the area from physics/science/math, the more interesting to me.

If anyone can point me to a website covering this topic, it'd save me the trouble of creating one.
 
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  • #2
Brian May has a Ph.D. in astrophysics...
 
  • #3
Bryan May quit his astrophysics doctorate when Queen got successful. He actually went back finished it last year.EDIT: Bah, too late.
 
  • #4
Stephen Fry has a degree in physics.

EDIT: That could be a load of rubbish but I'm sure I heard he had one on a talk show some years back. i'll try and find out for sure. :smile:
 
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  • #6
Joseph Lagrange
Carl Gauss
Leonhard EulerAll are famous for their impact in math
 
  • #7
Kurdt said:
Stephen Fry has a degree in physics.
No way. Fry is quite a dunce when it comes to science. The level of difficulty for the science questions on QI is astonishingly low.
 
  • #8
Gokul43201 said:
No way. Fry is quite a dunce when it comes to science. The level of difficulty for the science questions on QI is astonishingly low.

Yes sorry about that. His father was apparently a physicist and that's where the confusion probably occurred. For some reason I was under the impression he did a second degree in physics in the late eighties and I was damned sure I'd heard him talking about it on a chat show about 5-10 years ago. Oh well.

*puts on dunce cap and sits in the corner*
 
  • #9
Hydrargyrum said:
Joseph Lagrange
Carl Gauss
Leonhard EulerAll are famous for their impact in math

Nice try, but that would be like calling the guy who invented MRI a medical doctor because everybody uses them these days.

Moreover, they certainly are well-known for their impact on physics.
 
  • #11
There are -perhaps not surprisingly- quite a few well-known sci-fi writers that also happen to be physicists: Gregory Benford and Alastair Reynolds are two examples (and both are ,as far as I know, still working as physicists)
 
  • #12
f95toli said:
Gregory Benford

Coincidentally, earlier today I chatted with a colleague about Benford's novels; I think I've read three.

Also, Solzhenitsyn.
 
  • #13
Isaac Asimov comes to mind, though he did not just write fiction.
 
  • #14
Helical said:
Isaac Asimov comes to mind, though he did not just write fiction.

I'm pretty sure Asimov was a Biochemist?
 
  • #15
You're right of course...I guess I was thinking of his Understanding Physics textbooks.

But yeah I guess he doesn't apply. :P
 
  • #16
Double post, forum lagged.
 
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  • #17
René Descartes (Cartesian co-ordinates were invented by him) was a mathematician as well as a philosopher. As was Bertrand Russel.
 
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  • #18
The famous theologist, Pascal?
 
  • #19
fuzzyfelt said:
The famous theologist, Pascal?

Famous theologist, Darwin, studied theology at Cambridge with a view to becoming a clergyman.
 
  • #21
In my country, Holland, there are quite some politicians and big-company owners/CEO's who studied physics. I believe the philips CEO studied electronics and Jan Terlouw and Frits Bolkenstein are locally famous politicians who studied physics.
 

Related to Physicists famous for not-physics

1. Who are some famous physicists known for their work outside of physics?

Some famous physicists known for their work outside of physics include Albert Einstein, who was also a philosopher and humanitarian, and Marie Curie, who was also a chemist and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

2. What other fields have physicists made significant contributions to?

Physicists have made significant contributions to fields such as engineering, mathematics, computer science, and even economics.

3. What are some examples of famous physicists who have pursued careers in other fields?

Some examples of famous physicists who have pursued careers in other fields include Richard Feynman, who also worked in the fields of biology and nanotechnology, and Brian May, who is also a successful musician and astrophysicist.

4. How have physicists impacted society outside of their field?

Physicists have impacted society in many ways, including developing technology such as lasers, MRI machines, and nuclear power, as well as contributing to our understanding of the universe and solving real-world problems through their research.

5. Are there any physicists who have also made significant contributions to the arts?

Yes, there are many physicists who have also made significant contributions to the arts. For example, physicist and inventor Hertha Marks Ayrton was also a suffragette and writer, and physicist James Clerk Maxwell was also a poet and songwriter.

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