Geoffrey Chew

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Geoffrey Chew 2014

Geoffrey Foucar Chew (born June 5, 1924 in Washington, DC - † April 11, 2019 ) was an American theoretical physicist .

Chew studied at George Washington University (Bachelor 1944) and from 1944 with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago , where he received his doctorate in 1948 under Fermi (The elastic scattering of high energy nucleons by deuterons) . From 1948 he was at the University of California, Berkeley , in the Radiation Laboratory and from 1949 as an assistant professor of physics. 1950 to 1956 he was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (from 1955 as a professor). In 1956 he was at the Institute for Advanced Study . From 1957 he was professor of physics in Berkeley. From 1993 he was Professor Emeritus there . From 1986 to 1993 he was dean of the physics faculty and from 1974 to 1978 chairman of the physics faculty. He was visiting professor at Cambridge University as a Fellow of Churchill College in 1962/63, visiting professor at Princeton University in 1970/71 and at Paris University in 1983/84.

In Berkeley he built up an influential school of theoretical particle physicists in the 1960s who tried to understand the strong interaction through the theory of the S matrix . After he and Steven Frautschi discovered in 1960 that the mesons can be divided into families in which the spin is proportional to the square of the mass, he interpreted it to mean that none of the particles of strong interaction known at the time were fundamental. Instead, he was looking for a description of the analytical properties of the scattering matrix, without resorting to a quantum field theory in local space-time formulation (bootstrap theory) . Its approach also became known as "nuclear democracy" as none of the "bound states" were considered elementary. In the 1970s, the S-matrix theory was replaced by a "conservative" ordinary point particle quantum field theory in the description of the strong interaction, quantum chromodynamics with the associated quark model. At the same time, however, the S-matrix theory developed from around 1970 into string theory , an attempt to fundamentally describe all interactions between elementary particles.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (since 1962) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1966). In 1962 he received the Hughes Prize of the American Physical Society and in 1969 the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Prize .

His PhD students include string theorists David Gross (1966) and John Schwarz (1966).


  • The analytic S-Matrix , Benjamin 1965
  • Particles as S-Matrix Poles: Hadron democracy , in Hoddeson, Dresden, Brown (Ed.) Pions to quarks: Particle physics in the 1950s , Cambridge University Press 1997

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Remembering Geoffrey Chew. In: UC Berkeley Physics . April 15, 2019, accessed April 17, 2019 .