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Murray Gell-Mann
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    (September 15, 1929-May 24, 2019)
    Born in Manhattan, New York
    Won the Nobel Prize in Physics for work on elementary particles (1969)
    Postulated the existence of quarks
    Co-developer of 'quantum chromodynamics' to explain the strong interactions of nuclear particles
    Member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1969-72,1994-2001)
    He would 'correct' colleagues on the proper pronunciation of their own names.
    He was jealous of Richard Feynman's popularity, especially his status as a best-selling author.
    When he decided to write a popular science book, he declared 'I am writing a book for peasants.'
    The result, 'The Quark and the Jaguar' was described by a biographer as 'the Heaven's Gate of science books': it was submitted well past the deadline and still incomplete, prompting Bantam Books to reject the manuscript and demand a refund of the hefty advance they had paid.
    He was valedictorian of his prep school.
    He entered Yale when he was 15 and had earned a PhD by age 21.
    A colleague said, 'Murray has no particular talent for physics, but he's so smart he's a great physicist anyway.'
    He had a knack for coming up with memorable names for his theories, taking 'quark' from a passage in James Joyce's 'FInnegan's Wake,' and naming a system for classifying subatomic particles 'the eight-fold way' after the 'noble eight-fold path' of Buddhism.
    He said, 'What is especially striking and remarkable is that in fundamental physics a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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