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Willis Lamb

American Physicist
Willis Lamb

Willis Eugene Lamb, Jr. (July 12, 1913May 15, 2008) was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955 "for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum".


  • In his 1930 book, Dirac took for granted that measurements could be made, but was very vague about what was actually involved.
    • W. E. Lamb, Sequential measurements in quantum mechanics, in Quantum Measurements and Chaos, E. R. Pike and S. Sarkar, eds. (Plenum, New York, 1987) pp. 183-193.
  • Neither Dirac nor von Neumann discussed his measurements in physical terms.
    • W. E. Lamb, Classical measurements on a quantum mechanical system, Nuclear Phys. B 6, 197-201 (1989).
  • At the first of the 1960's Rochester Coherence Conferences, I suggested that a license be required for use of the word photon, and offered to give such license to properly qualified people.
    • W. E. Lamb, Anti-photon, Appl. Phys. B 60, 77-84 (1995).
  • I liked quantum mechanics very much. The subject was hard to understand but easy to apply to a large number of interesting problems.
    • W. E. Lamb, Super classical quantum mechanics: the best interpretation of non relativistic quantum mechanics, Am. J. Phys. 69, 413-422 (2001).
  • In fact, there really is not a new law of nature. It was all in the theory to begin with but nobody worked it out.
    • relating his experimental confirmation of the fine structure spectrum of hydrogen, as reported by Jagdish Mehra (2001). The historical development of quantum theory. Springer. p. 1037. ISBN 0387950869. 

Quotes about LambEdit

  • A rare theorist turned experimentalist.
    • D. Kaiser (2005). Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics. The University of Chicago. p. 37. ISBN 0226422666. 
  • A gifted experimentalist, and theoretician, in the best Newtonian tradition... His contributions to quantum measurements, and elucidative teachings on quantum mechanics, have not yet received the attention they deserve.

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