contributions

John Archibald Wheeler’s contributions have spanned almost every area of twentieth century physics, and yet it is in the two fields of general relativity and the foundations of quantum mechanics that his influence has reached beyond the formalism and phenomena, down into the philosophical layer – the metaphysics, in the original sense.

Yuval Ne’eman    

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988.

John Wheeler has spent much of his time in recent years thinking about the implications which quantum measurement theory has on our understanding of the universe.  The field of quantum measurement theory has long been regarded as an unwanted stepchild of physics, as something which philosophers worried about, but which has no place in real physics.  This attitude is changing, and one of the reasons is that we are realizing that the field can help give insights even into the problems of mundane physics.

W.G Unruh     

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988. Print.

…Wheeler has been astounding the narrow specialists of science with his speculations.  The really astounding thing about Wheeler’s speculations is that so many of them have turned out in the end to be right.

Freeman Dyson     

Woolf, Harry, ed. Some Strangeness in the Proportion: A Centennial Symposium to Celebrate the Achievements of Albert Einstein. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Advanced Book Program, 1980. Print.

Except perhaps for Einstein and Bohr, no man has wrestled more with the absurdities and successes of the quantum theory than John Wheeler….John Wheeler is the last of the giants.

Michio Kaku   

Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos. 1st ed. New York: Doubleday, 2005. Print.

It is impossible to list all of John Wheeler’s remarkable achievements.  He has made contributions in nuclear physics, quantum mechanics, nuclear engineering, numerical physics, the interpretation of measurements, cosmology, etc.

Richard Matzner and Anthony Mezzacappa        

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Throughout his life, Johnny was an extraordinarily productive theoretical physicist… his work was categorized by great imagination and great thoroughness.

Murph Goldberger      

Princeton University Obituary
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S20/82/08G77/index.xml?section=topstories

John Wheeler, who started life with Niels Bohr in the ’30s, in the nuclear physics era, became the father figure of modern general relativity two decades later…Wheeler’s impact is hard to overstate…

Stanley Deser

Princeton University Obituary
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S20/82/08G77/index.xml?section=topstories

At that time most physicists were caught up in the study of nuclear physics and general relativity was not really regarded as relevant to the physical world.  But almost single-handedly, wheeler transformed the field, both through his research and through his teaching of Princeton’s first course on relativity.

Stephen Hawking

Hawking, S. W. The Universe in a Nutshell. New York: Bantam Books, 2001. Print.
John Archibald Wheeler . . . summarized the state of affairs in elementary particle physics in the fall of 1945 by observing that the experimental and theoretical researches of the 1930s had made it possible to identify four fundamental interactions: (a) gravitation, (b) electromagnetism, (c) nuclear (strong) forces, and (d) weak-decay interactions.  Wheeler believed that the interesting and exciting areas of research were the investigations of the electromagnetic, the strong, and the weak interactions, and these, indeed, became the traditional domain of high energy physics.
Silvan S. Schweber
Nye, Mary Jo et al. The Cambridge history of science: The Cambridge history of science. Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

In field after field, he has generated the key concepts that have been used by others.  He is the pioneer who has opened up valuable new terrain and pointed the way.  Many of those who later work in these fields do not know that it was John Wheeler who started them, because of his great modestly, informality, and continual willingness to give credit to others have often effaced his own germinal role.

John Toll

Klauder, John. Magic Without Magic. Freeman and Company. San Francisco 1972 p 10

No one has had a greater influence on the development of the quantum theory of gravity than John Wheeler.  He has taught many of us not only how to ask the right questions of the theory but also to understand some of its fantastic implications.

Arlen Anderson and Bryce Dewitt

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988.

John Wheeler [is] the perpetuum mobile of physicists…

Bryce DeWitt

DeWitt-Morette, Cécile. The Pursuit of Quantum Gravity: Memoirs of Bryce DeWitt from 1946 to 2004. Heidelberg: Springer, 2011.

Wheeler’s influence via his students, associates, and active participation in conferences, has helped to shape the field [of quantum computation]

Rolf Landauer

Feynman and Computation: Exploring the Limits of Computers. Reading, Mass: Perseus Books, 1999

[T]he vistas he opened thereby are such as to influence, in the long run, the whole of our thinking on the measurement problem….

Bernard D’Espaganat  

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Our view of four-dimensional space-time today was shaped in large measure by two men, Einstein and Wheeler.

Dieter Brill

Zurek, Wojciech Hubert, Alwyn Van der Merwe, and Warner Allen Miller, eds. Between Quantum and Cosmos: Studies and Essays in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1988

Wheeler was the first to propose the collective motion description for the nuclear structure of Be and C in 1937.  It was indeed a pity that when the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 1975 for the discovery of the nuclear collective motion, Wheeler was not included as one of the honorees.

Cheuk-Yin Wong

Wong, Cheuk-Yin. “Remembering Professor John Wheeler.” AAAPPS Bulletin 19.2 (2009) : 56-58. Print.

I think he should have gotten [the Nobel Prize].  There are several things he could have got it for; the theory of fission, he invented the S-Matrix, he had done so many things.  Black holes are probably the most important.  anyway, I never noticed him to be embittered by this at all.

Freeman Dyson

Hargittai, Magdolna. Candid Science IV: Conversations with Famous Physicists. London: Imperial College Press, 2004. Print.