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Murray Gell-Mann facts for kids

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Murray Gell-Mann
Murray Gell-Mann - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012.jpg
Gell-Mann at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 2012
Born (1929-09-15)September 15, 1929
Died May 24, 2019(2019-05-24) (aged 89)
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Alma mater
Known for
  • Coining the term 'quark'
  • Elementary particles
  • Effective complexity
  • Gell-Mann and Low theorem
  • Gell-Mann matrices
  • Gell-Mann−Low renormalization group equation
  • Gell-Mann–Nishijima formula
  • Gell-Mann–Okubo mass formula
  • Strangeness
  • Plectics
  • J. Margaret Dow
    (m. 1955; her death 1981)
  • Marcia Southwick (m. 1992)
Children Two + 1 stepchild
  • Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (1959)
  • E. O. Lawrence Award (1966)
  • John J. Carty Award (1968)
  • Nobel Prize in Physics (1969)
  • ForMemRS (1978)
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Thesis Coupling strength and nuclear reactions (1951)

Murray Gell-Mann (September 15, 1929 – May 24, 2019) was an American physicist who received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. He was the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, a Distinguished Fellow and co-founder of the Santa Fe Institute, Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of New Mexico, and the Presidential Professor of Physics and Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Gell-Mann has also worked at CERN, as a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in 1972.


He was known for his study of particle physics, the smallest parts that make up the universe. These small particles behaved in ways that did not appear to follow the known laws of physics, and Gell-Mann came up with the idea of giving them a strangeness number which could allow them to be compared and put into categories. He also came up with idea that parts of an atom, the proton ad the neutron were made up of even smaller particles. He called the quarks, a nonsense work from James Joyce's book, Finnigan's Wake.

Gell-Mann then developed the idea that quarks were held together inside the nucleus by a force he called "color", and this force could be given a quantum number. With Richard Feynman he discovered a weak interaction between sub-atomic particles. He researched string theory which could could explain what makes up the smallest particles and forces.

Personal life

Gell-Mann was an agnostic. Gell-Mann supported Barack Obama for the United States presidency in October 2008.

Gell-Mann died on May 24, 2019 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, aged 89.

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