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John S. Bell
John Stewart Bell, CERN, 1973
John Stewart Bell

28 June 1928
Died 1 October 1990 (aged 62)
Alma mater Queen's University of Belfast (B.Sc.)
University of Birmingham (Ph.D.)
Known for Bell's theorem
Bell state
Chiral anomaly
Bell's spaceship paradox
Quantum entanglement
Awards Heineman Prize (1989)
Hughes Medal (1989)
Paul Dirac Medal and Prize (1988)
Scientific career
Institutions Atomic Energy Research Establishment
CERN, Stanford University
Thesis i. Time reversal in field theory, ii. Some functional methods in field theory. (1956)
Doctoral advisor Rudolph E. Peierls

John Stewart Bell FRS (28 June 1928 – 1 October 1990) was a Northern Irish physicist, and the originator of Bell's theorem, an important theorem in quantum physics regarding hidden variable theories.

Early life and work

John Bell was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. When he was 11 years old, he decided to be a scientist, and at 16 graduated from Belfast Technical High School. Bell then attended the Queen's University of Belfast, and obtained a bachelor's degree in experimental physics in 1948, and one in mathematical physics a year later. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Birmingham in 1956, specialising in nuclear physics and quantum field theory.

In 1954, he married Mary Ross, also a physicist, whom he had met while working on accelerator physics at Malvern, UK.

Bell's career began with the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment, near Harwell, Oxfordshire, known as AERE or Harwell Laboratory. After several years he moved to work for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN, Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), in Geneva, Switzerland. There he worked almost exclusively on theoretical particle physics and on accelerator design, but found time to pursue a major avocation, investigating the foundations of quantum theory.

Death and legacy

Bell died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage in Geneva in 1990. It is widely claimed that unknown to Bell, that year he had been nominated for a Nobel Prize. .

John Stewart Bell plaque, Belfast - - 1599509
John Stewart Bell plaque, Belfast
  • In 2008, the John Stewart Bell Prize was created by the Centre for Quantum Information and Quantum Control at the University of Toronto. The award recognizes major advances relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics and to the applications of these principles.
  • At the CERN site in Meyrin, close to Geneva, there is a street called Route Bell in honour of John Stewart Bell.
  • A day was named after him, referring to the date he released Bell's Theorem, November 4.
  • Since 2015, there is also a street named Bell's Theorem Crescent in his city of birth, Belfast.
  • The John Bell House, named in his honour, finished construction in 2016 and houses over 400 students in Belfast city centre.
  • The pedestrian entrance to the Olympia leisure centre in Belfast located 200 meters from Bell's childhood home is named the "John Stewart Bell Entrance" in honour of the local man.
  • In the Queen's University of Belfast one of the Physics lecture theatres is named in honour of John Stewart Bell

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