It's a

physicist! No, it's a

mathematician!

Actually, it's a

mathematical physicist.

As I see it, mathematical physics has two main

areas of

focus. The

first is to find new

applications of

mathematics to

physics. The

mathematical methods employed in this

quest tend to be slightly too

esoteric to be part of the

average physicist's knowledge base. One

example of such a

breakthrough is

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which utilised

differential geometry at a

time when

hardly any

physicists received

training in what

seemed to be such a

useless topic.

The

second branch of mathematical physics is

concerned with finding more mathematically

rigorous frameworks for existing

physical theories. It is

interesting to note that

several major branches of

mathematical study have been

inspired by a cobbled-together physical

theory. One of the foremost examples of this is

functional analysis, which finds much of its

historical motivation in

quantum mechanics.

It is

difficult to

classify scientists who lived less-

recently as mathematical physicists since such

fine distinctions were not

drawn until the

latter half of the

twentieth century, but I would

include the

following as mathematical physicists:

Albert Einstein,

Emmy Noether,

Paul Dirac,

Adrien-Marie Legendre,

George Gabriel Stokes,

Isaac Newton,

Lev Davidovich Landau,

Julian Schwinger and

Jean Fourier.