
Re: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 140)
Posted:
Oct 18, 1999 5:56 PM


In article <7ubcki$eda@charity.ucr.edu>, John Baez <baez@math.ucr.edu> writes:
[unnecessary quoted text deleted]
>Von Neumann might be my candidate for the best mathematical physicist of >the 20th century. His work ranged from the ultrapure to the >ultraapplied. 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 StoneVon Neumann theorem and so on), ergodic theory, his work on >Hilbert's fifth problem, the Manhattan project, game theory, the theory >of selfreproducing 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 charles@clef.demon.co.uk

