JULIAN SCHWINGER

February 12, 1918–July 16, 1994


BY PAUL C. MARTIN AND SHELDON L. GLASHOW


JULIAN SCHWINGER, WHO DIED ON July 16, 1994, at the age of 76, was a phenomenal theoretical physicist. Gentle but steadfastly independent, quiet but dramatically eloquent, self-taught and self-propelled, brilliant and prolific, Schwinger remained active and productive until his death. His ideas, discoveries, and techniques pervade all areas of physics.

Schwinger burst upon the scene meteorically in the late 1930s, and by the mid-20th century his reputation among physicists matched those of earlier giants. To a public vaguely conscious of relativity and quantum uncertainty but keenly aware of nuclear energy, the New York Times reported in 1948 that theorists regarded him as the heir apparent to Einstein’s mantle and his work on the interaction of energy and matter as the most important development in the last 20 years. With the development of powerful new theoretical methods for describing physical problems, his influence grew. In the early 1950s the Journal of Jocular Physics, a publication of the Bohr Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, included a template for articles by aspiring theorists. It began “According to Julian Schwinger” and invoked “the Green’s function expression for …”. References to unpublished Schwinger lecture notes and some classic Schwinger papers followed. The recipe elicited



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