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Topic: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 140)
Replies: 10   Last Post: Oct 27, 1999 9:53 PM

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Charles Francis

Posts: 135
Registered: 12/12/04
Re: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 140)
Posted: Oct 18, 1999 5:56 PM
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In article <7ubcki$>, John Baez <>

[unnecessary quoted text deleted]

>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

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