Renowned physicist Murray Gell-Mann passes away


Renowned physicist and Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann passed away on Friday.

In a tweet, Santa Fe Institute, where he was a distinguished fellow, said, “We are sorry to announce the passing of Nobel laureate and complexity giant Murray Gell-Mann, one of the 20th century’s greatest physicists – pioneer, SFI co-founder, prophet of the quark. You inspired so many, Murray. You will be missed.”

Murray Gell-Mann was one of the most prominent scientists of the 21st century. He was the distinguished fellow at the Santa Fe Institute as well as the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he joined the faculty in 1955. In 1969 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He was the author of The Quark and the Jaguar, published in 1994, in which his ideas on simplicity and complexity are presented to a general readership.

Among his contributions to Physics was the “eightfold way” scheme that brought order out of the chaos created by the discovery of some 100 kinds of particles in collisions involving atomic nuclei. Gell-Mann subsequently found that all of those particles, including the neutron and proton, are composed of fundamental building blocks that he named “quarks,” with very unusual properties. That idea has since been fully confirmed by experiment. The quarks are permanently confined by forces coming from the exchange of “gluons.” He and others later constructed the quantum field theory of quarks and gluons, called “quantum chromodynamics,” which seems to account for all the nuclear particles and their strong interactions.

He was married to J Margaret Dow in 1955 and together they have a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Nicholas.