mentorship


There is an army of physics students in the United States whose view of nature and whose view of physics is more powerfully colored by the personalities and intellects of Niels Bohr and John Wheeler than they know…

Kenneth Ford

Christensen, Terry M. “John Wheeler’s Mentorship: An Enduring Legacy.” Physics Today 62.4 (2009) : 55. Web. 8 Apr 2011.

You might say that my success was a result of things I learned from him.

Richard Feynman

Stanley, Dick. “A Pioneer of Thought.” Austin American Statesman 8 Feb 1987 : 1. Print.

http://web.me.com/patandmel/UTexas_Physics_History/John_Archibald_Wheeler.html

… my friend and teacher…

Steven Weinberg

Weinberg, Steven. Dreams of a Final Theory. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992. Print.

…our admired friend and mentor..

Jaroslav Pelikan

Barrow, John D, P. C. W Davies, and Charles L Harper, eds. Science and Ultimate Reality: Quantum Theory, Cosmology,and Complexity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge, 2004. Print.

…when he was in the lecture hall he embodied Niel’s Bohr’s dictum “Learn by teaching.”  He would put knotty problems from his own research up on the blackboard and try to solve them in the classroom with the help of his students, guiding them through roller coasters of free association ranging across broad landscapes of physics, mathematics, philosophy, and common sense.  He educated pretty much an entire generation of American physicists…

Timothy Ferris

Ferris, Timothy. The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Print.  p. 164

Professor Wheeler’s love for science was profound and contagious.  He inspired many generations of physicists.

Cheuk-Yin Wong

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

We have all been close enough to this great teacher to have been
strongly influenced not only by his ideas, but also by his passionate drive to
understand the world.

Benjamin Schumacher &  William Wooters

HAUSLADEN, PAUL et al. “Sending Classical Bits via Quantum Its.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 755.1 (1995) : 698-705. Web. 13 July 2011.

Beyond John Wheeler’s knack for finding and mentoring the world’s most gifted young scientists… he had an uncanny ability to identify issues whose exploration could change our fundamental paradigm of nature’s workings.

Brian Greene 

Greene, B. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Lawsof the Cosmos. 1st ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Print.

…Hugh Everett, then a Princeton graduate student working under the eminent physicist John Archibald Wheeler, first set out the many-universes implications of quantum theory.  Wheeler did not accept them.  He was (and still is) convinced that Bohr’s vision, though incomplete, was the basis of the correct explanation.  But did he therefore behave as the Kuhnian stereotype would lead us to expect?  Did he try to suppress his student’s heretical idea?  On the contrary, wheeler was afraid that Everett’s ideas might not be sufficiently appreciated.  So he himself wrote a short paper to accompany the one that Everett published, and they appeared on consecutive pages of the journal Review of Modern Physics.  Wheeler’s paper explained and defended Everett’s so effectively that many readers assumed that they were jointly responsible for the content.  Consequently the multiverse theory was mistakenly known as the ‘Everett-Wheeler theory’ for many years afterwards, much to Wheeler’s chagrin.

David Deutsch

Deutsch, David. The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and Its Implications. 1st ed. New York: Allen Lane, 1997. Print.

Physicist John A. Wheeler said to his students,’ If you haven’t found something strange during the day it hasn’t been much of a day.’  He encouraged that attitude among his students.  One of them in response to his teacher did let his ideas get a bit out of hand.  Professor Wheeler said to him ‘I can’t believe that space is that crummy’.  Noting the fallen expression on the student’s face, Wheeler touched his arm and added encouragingly: ‘To disagree leads to study, to study leads to understanding, to understand is to appreciate, to appreciate is to love. So maybe I’ll end up loving your theory.’

Charles Birch

Charles Birch . Biology and the riddle of life. Sydney, Australia, University of New South Wales Press, 1999.   Comment made by Wheeler to an undergraduate student at Princeton presenting new ideas.

Surrounded by a luminous galaxy of students and colleagues, John Wheeler has always stood at the center of our knowledge of the universe.

Val Fitch

back of hardcover of “Geons”Wheeler, John Archibald. Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 1998. Print.

John Wheeler – scientist, philosopher, dreamer – has influenced my own thinking more than any other human being.

Paul Davies

Email received for the conference Science and Ultimate Reality held in Princeton, NJ March 15-18 2002. retrieved from the Wheeler archive at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA

We have all seen your colorful blackboards summarizing questions and answers of multifaceted issues; and we have all heard you saying at the end of a seminar, “ Tell us in one sentence what we have learned today.”

Cécille DeWitt-Morette, et al

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.

John Wheeler is not only one of the luminaries in the fields of general relativity, quantum gravity, and foundations of the quantum theory.  He is also a great teacher, not only in the classroom and as an impressive lecturer before wide audiences, but also as an inspiring guide to his graduate students throughout their careers.

Jacob Bekenstein

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.

This simultaneous feeling of strong understanding yet deep puzzlement which John so often instilled in me and his other students is the product of his unique style of teaching…. The physics community, as well as the inquiring public as a whole, is very much indebted to John Wheeler.

James Isenberg

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.

At latitude 40S there is a science institute where one can find the footprints of Wheeler in every corner.

Claudio Bunster

talking about Centro de Estudios Cientificos de Santiago (CECS p. 301

Henneaux, Marc, and Jorge Zanelli, eds. Quantum Mechanics of Fundamental Systems: The Quest for Beauty and Simplicity: Claudio Bunster Festschrift. New York: Springer, 2009. Print.

I was his student, and I owe much of my scientific personality, style, and accomplishments to him, as do more than 100 other physicists whom he personally mentored….Wheeler was a Pied Piper among physicists: He identified deep issues, often beyond the frontiers of knowledge, and through his lectures, writings, and personal conversations, exhorted us to pursue them….Rarely did Wheeler join his students as a coauthor, even when all key ideas were his. He reasoned that, if his name appeared with theirs, readers would forget them and credit the work to him. He was loved and respected for his generosity and kindness, as well as for his vision and accomplishments.

Kip Thorne

Thorne, Kip S. “John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008).” Science 320.5883 (2008) : 1603. Web. 5 June 2011.

…John Wheeler, a professor at Princeton and one of the great physics teachers of the twentieth century, recommended to his students: Never make a calculation before you know the answer.  This rule has come to be called Wheeler’s First Moral principle, and it means that you should first make a preliminary rough estimate, so you know what to expect, and don’t fall into the trap of blindly believing an erroneous calculation (unfortunately, Wheeler never revealed to his students his Second or Third Moral Principles).

Hans Ohanian

Hans Ohanian. Einstein’s Mistakes:  The Human Failings of a Genius.  London: WW Norton & Co., 2009. Print.

… even in the final days of his life, John Wheeler’s enthusiasm for learning and sharing new ideas was palpable.  This robust enthusiasm for learning—robust enough to buoy his apprentices when problems seemed insoluble or the completion of a research project seemed in doubt—is perhaps the most important quality that a scientific craftsman can inculcate in an apprentice, and the material from which chains of wisdom are forged.

Terry Christensen

Christensen, Terry M. “John Wheeler’s Mentorship: An Enduring Legacy.” Physics Today 62.4 (2009) : 55. Web. 8 Apr 2011.