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John Archibald Wheeler (Jacksonville, Florida, July 9, 1911 – April 13, 2008) was an American theoretical physicist. He received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He made important advances in theoretical physics.
Among his important works is the introduction of the S matrix that is indispensable in particle physics. He was also one of the pioneers in the theory of nuclear fission.
Along with Gregory Breit, Wheeler developed the concept of the Breit-Wheeler process.
Son of librarians, and the eldest of four brothers, John Archibald Wheeler always moved in a cultured environment, surrounded by books, was an inquisitive child from a very young age and excelled among the students of his school. He was promoted from fourth to eighth grade in just one year.
He was always attracted to mathematics, to which he devoted all the time he could. When he reached high school, he was already sure he wanted to get to college and study a technical career.
Working hard he got a scholarship with which he started his engineering studies in 1927, when he was only 16 years old. In his college years, Wheeler discovered his passion for physics and graduated in this subject with the highest grade.
Not satisfied with his studies at the university, once completed, he decided to continue in the field of research, getting several scholarships in succession, thanks to which he continued to investigate Nuclear Physics, along with important scientists such as Einstein or Niels Bohr He was Richard Feynman’s tutor in his PhD thesis in Theoretical Physics in 1942. During World War II he joined the Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb and continued with the development of the hydrogen bomb .
One of his most recognized works is his research on the so-called black holes, a term he adopted in 1967, during a conference in New York. Thus, he explained the possible end of the stars and the destructive region left behind by the remains of these, whose gravitational power absorbs everything that comes close to them.
He created the words wormhole (to name the entities hypothesized in 1916 by Ludwig Flamm) and black hole (hypothesized by Karl Schwarzschild also around 1916), white hole, geon, quantum foam and geometromodynamics. the main diffusers of the anthropic principle. In the Preface to The anthropic cosmological principle, he wrote:
“It is not only that man is adapted to the universe. The universe is adapted to man. Imagine a universe in which one or another of the fundamental physical constants without dimensions was altered in a small percentage in one direction or another? In such a universe man would never have existed. This is the central point of the anthropic principle. According to this principle, a life-giving factor lies at the center of all the machinery and design of the world. ” “The time I have left on Earth is limited, and the question of creation is so formidable that I can hardly hope to solve it in the time I have left.” This was expressed a few years before his death, John Archibald Wheeler, one of the most important physicists of the 20th century.
In a 1934 paper, Breit and Wheeler introduced the Breit-Wheeler process, a mechanism by which photons can potentially be transformed into matter in the form of electron-positron pairs.
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