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Top 10 physicists in quantum mechanics?

  1. Nov 8, 2013 #1


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    Gold Member

    Which contemporary physicists in theoretical or experimental physics do you think should be included in the group of the Top 10?

    You do not have to rank them within the group.

    I just want to identify leading physicists, their research groups and geographical hot areas for QM, like the Silicon Valley is for IT.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Its not quite that simple for a few reasons.

    First physics is much more of a team effort these days so its hard to single out individuals.

    Secondly, by the time its recognized that a persons contribution is above others, things have usually moved on and its someone else you haven't heard of that's leading the pack.

    This happened for example in the Manhattan project. The actual greatest theoretical physicist in his prime there was Richard Feynman:

    When Bethe talks about Feynman being way above the other great minds in his division that included the likes of Teller and Fermi. But Feynman was in his prime, and at that stage above even those great minds - yet no one had really heard of him. They did later of course. But by that time other great minds had emerged (eg Wilson in Effective Field Theory) and overtook even Feynman.

    Alive today based on past accomplishments I would say Witten, Higgs and Wienberg and Salam. But are they the groundbreakers right now - no. Who are they - its probably like Feynman - those working with them, like Bethe was with Feynman, probably know, but for the rest of us we will have to wait longer. And by that time it will be others again making the breakthroughs

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Nov 10, 2013 #3


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    These are all quantum field theorists which illustrates another point: quantum physics is a really big field and what you consider to be important may depend strongly on your own background.
  5. Nov 11, 2013 #4


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    Thanks bhobba.

    I see more clearly why The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in the selection of Nobel laureate, spends more and more work to sort out who did what and the relationship between different research groups. Yet it fails sometimes.
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