John Archibald Wheeler, born 9 July, 1911, Jacksonville USA.

He is undoubtedly one of the most influential physicists of our age, whose tremendous depth and range of work shaped the future study of many topics in physics. He will probably be remembered for two things however; his work on the atomic bomb and his work on black holes.

He became interested in science as a boy reading the scientific journals and his interest took him through his education at Baltimore City College through to receiving his doctrate from Johns Hopkins University in 1933. In 1938 he joined Princeton, where he was the 'Joseph Henry' Professor between 1966 and 1976, after which he left to join the University of Texas at Austin where he was made Blumberg professor in 1981.

His studies with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1939 lead to a joint paper, "The Mechanism of Nuclear Fission". This paper was responsible for uranium-235 being used to develop the atomic bomb.

In 1968 he recieved recognition for his long work on nuclear fission and plutonium production, and was awarded the Fermi prize by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. During 1969 to 1976 he was as a member of the U.S. General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament.

His work in the field of astrophysics and relativity initially lead him to vigourously oppose the theory that stars could undergo infinite collapse. However he later switched camps, and became one of the biggest supporters of the theory, indeed it was him who coined the phrase 'Black Hole' to describe such an object. He also argued that the union of quantum mechanics and general relativity might be found be studying black holes; in fact some of his arguments seem to have anticipated Hawking radiation.

Quotation :-

"We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance.
As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.

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