Murray Gell-Mann

“Our knowledge of fundamental physics contains not one fruitful idea that does not carry the name of Murray Gell-Man.”  Richard Feynman

Having a keen interest (for almost a decade) in the work of the Santa Fe Institute in Complexity Science, it was inevitable that I would come across one of the greatest physicists and co-founder of the SFI.

Murray Gell-Man was born in New York City in 1929 and proved to be an exceptional student with an intense interest in nature and mathematics.  He entered Yale University at the age of 15 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics at the age of 18.  By the time Gell-Man was 21 he had earned a PhD degree from MIT and in a very short period thereafter he revolutionised and dominated the field of particle physics.  He also collaborated with the well-known and popular theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, and Gell-Mann’s most notable work included the Eightfold Way scheme and the quark model.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

In 1984 Murray Gell-Mann co-founded the Santa Fe Institute – a non-profit research institute dedicated to the study of principles of complex adaptive systems and complexity theory in general.  Most of the founders of the institute were scientists with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Gell-Mann wrote a science book about physics and complexity science in 1994, known as The Quark and the Jaguar:  Adventures in the Simple and the Complex.  He also wrote numerous other pieces on the subjects of complexity and complex adaptive systems.

Apart from George Johnson’s biography of Gell-Mann (Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann, and the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics), Celia Lowenstein made a great documentary – Simply Complex:  The Life and Times of Murray Gell-Mann.

In Memory of Murray Gell-Mann (15/09/1929 – 24/05/2019)