John Stewart Bell

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Stewart Bell, 1982

John Stewart Bell (born June 28, 1928 in Belfast , † October 1, 1990 in Geneva, Switzerland) was a Northern Irish physicist , after whom Bell's inequality and Bell's spaceship paradox were named.

Live and act

Bell came from a poor background. With the help of scholarships and part-time jobs, he was able to attend secondary schools and later study physics at Queen's University of Belfast . In 1948 he received his B.Sc. in experimental physics , a year later a degree in mathematical physics .

First he worked in atomic energy research in Harwell ( Oxfordshire ). There he received his doctorate in 1956. He then worked on theoretical elementary particle physics in Birmingham and at CERN . He married his wife Mary, also a physicist, in 1954. Bell has been interested in the fundamentals of quantum physics , especially since Bohm's quantum mechanics became known .

His most important discoveries are the Adler-Bell-Jackiw anomaly, named after him and Stephen L. Adler and Roman Jackiw , and the famous Bell's inequality , which he derived in 1964. Bell showed, among other things, that every "reasonable" quantum theory with local hidden variables makes certain statements that can be verified by experiments and that contradict the statements of quantum mechanics. Experiments that were later carried out to test Bell's inequality speak, within the scope of the measurement accuracy possible up to now, for quantum mechanics and against quantum theories with local hidden variables.

The Bohm mechanics , a quantum theory with hidden variables for which JS Bell has been used in numerous works, is not affected because of their non-locality. According to JS Bell, which is not shared by all physicists, it even follows from Bell's inequality that nature itself is not local if the predictions of quantum mechanics are correct.

Bell later worked mainly in the field of quantum field theory at CERN. In 1987 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , in 1989 he received the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics . He died in 1990 of a brain hemorrhage in Geneva shortly after being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics .

In his honor, the University of Toronto has been awarding the John Stewart Bell Prize for research into the fundamentals of quantum mechanics since 2009 .

Fonts (selection)


  • Andrew Whitaker: John Stewart Bell and twentieth-century physics: vision and integrity , Oxford University Press 2016

Web links


  1. According to NNDB, the Royal Society states July 28, 1928.