Victor Frederick Weisskopf

Austrian American theoretical physicist

Victor Frederick Weisskopf (September 19, 1908April 22, 2002) was an Austrian born Jewish American theoretical physicist. He did postdoctoral work with Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr. During World War II he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Victor Frederick Weisskopf

Quotes edit

  • It is possible to apply statistical methods to the calculation of nuclear processes provided that the energies involved are large in comparison with the lowest excitation energies of nuclei.
  • … conferences with open attendance are very important for the stimulation of young people or other people who are new in the field. … The field of high-energy physics is, as you know, very strongly in the hands of a clique and it is hard for an outsider to enter.
    • Victor Weisskopf to J. Howard McMillen, 14 Mar 1960, also as quoted by David Kaiser (2005). Drawing theories apart: the dispersion of Feynman diagrams in postwar physics. University of Chicago Press. p. 336. ISBN 0226422674. 
  • Almost all of the material phenomena which occur under terrestrial conditions are recognized as quantum mechanical consequences of the electrical attraction between electrons and nuclei and of the gravitational attraction between massive objects. We should be able, therefore, to express all the relevant magnitudes which characterize the properties of matter in terms of the following six magnitudes: M, m, e, c, G, and h; M is the mass of the proton, m and e are the mass and electrical charge of the electron, c is the light velocity, G is Newton's gravitational constant, and—most importantly—h is the quantum of action ...
  • The question of the origin of the universe is one of the most exciting topics for a scientist to deal with. It reaches far beyond its purely scientific significance, since it is related to human existence, to mythology, and to religion. Furthermore, it deals with questions are connected with the fundamental structure of matter, with elementrary particles.
  • Self-confidence is an important ingredient that makes for a successful physicist.
    • Victor Weisskopf (1983). Growing up with quantum field theory: The development of quantum electrodynamics. In: The birth of particle physics (ed. L.M. Brown and L. Hoddeson). Cambridge University Press. p. 75. 

Quotes about Weisskopf edit

  • In 1936 Weisskopf proposed to set aside in quantum electrodynamics the divergent effects at small distances, and to consider only the charge of the particle observed at long distances. This assertion anticipated charge and mass renormalization. Later he showed that the self-energy of an electron in Dirac theory diverges only logarithmically, a result that was important for the later development of renormalization theory.

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