In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, John Baez <email@example.com> writes:
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>Von Neumann might be my candidate for the best mathematical physicist of >the 20th century. His work ranged from the ultra-pure to the >ultra-applied. At one end: his work on axiomatic set theory. At the >other: designing and building some of the first computers to help design >the hydrogen bomb - which was so applied, it got him in trouble at the >Institute for Advanced Studies! But there's so much stuff in between: >the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics (von Neumann algebras, >the Stone-Von Neumann theorem and so on), ergodic theory, his work on >Hilbert's fifth problem, the Manhattan project, game theory, the theory >of self-reproducing cellular automata.... You may or may not like him, >but you can't help being awed.
If a division is to be made been mathematics and physics, I would class Von Neumann as a mathematician who did vital work in physics, along with Gauss and Riemann. No doubt, one of the greatest intellects in history. The best theoretical physicists this century I would say are Dirac and Einstein, closely followed by Von Neumann. -- Charles Francis firstname.lastname@example.org