Wheeler, John Archibald

Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911–2008, American physicist and educator, b. Jacksonville, Fla. Educated at Johns Hopkins (Ph.D., 1933), he joined the faculty at Princeton in 1938, and after 1976 was director of the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Univ. of Texas until he retired (1986). In the 1930s, Wheeler worked with Danish physicist Niels Bohr; they were the first to explain nuclear fission in terms of quantum physics. Wheeler went on to work on the U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb projects, and joined with B. K. Harrison and M. Wakano to develop the equation of state for cold, dead matter and a complete catalog of cold, dead stars, firming up the evidence for black holes (a term coined by Wheeler). A charismatic teacher, Wheeler mentored many distinguished physicists, most notably Richard Feynman.

See his autobiography, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics (1998).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Physics: Biographies