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Eugene Paul Wigner

Datum narození: 17. listopad 1902
Datum úmrtí: 1. leden 1995

Eugene Paul Wigner byl americký fyzik židovského původu, nositel Nobelovy ceny za fyziku.

Nobelovu cenu získal „za příspěvky k teorii atomového jádra a elementárních částic, zejména za objev základních principů symetrie a jejich aplikace v praxi.“ Ve světě fyziků byl někdy označovaný jako tichý génius a někteří z jeho současníků ho přirovnávali k Einsteinovi.

Wigner byl jedním z těch fyziků, kteří v 20. létech minulého století přetvořili fyziku. První fyzici z této generace: Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger a Paul Dirac vytvořili kvantovou mechaniku. Byl to úplně nový, oslnivý svět, který však otevřel mnoho nových základních otázek. Následovali je další, aby této otázky zodpovídali a aby nastolili otázky ještě složitější.

Wigner patřil k druhé skupině těchto vědců. Zavedl pojem symetrií do kvantové mechaniky, v 30. létech rozšířil svůj výzkum na atomová jádra. V letech 1939 až 1945 tato generace pomohla přetvořit svět.

Wigner patřil do skupiny známých maďarsko-židovských fyziků a matematiků z Budapešti. Patřili sem Paul Erdős, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, a Leó Szilárd. Jejich američtí kolegové je kvůli jejich jakoby „nadpozemským“ schopnostem přezdívali „The Martians“ . Szilárd byl nejlepším přítelem Wignera v dospělosti. Neumann byl Wignerův spolužák a rádce, o kterém později Wigner napsal: „byl to nejmoudřejší člověk, jakého jsem na Zemi poznal.“ E. P.Wigner byl však z nich jediný, kdo získal Nobelovu cenu.

Citáty Eugene Paul Wigner


„Emigrace ke v mnoha směrech stimulující... V cizině prostě musíte excelovat.“

„Physics is becoming so unbelievably complex that it is taking longer and longer to train a physicist. It is taking so long, in fact, to train a physicist to the place where he understands the nature of physical problems that he is already too old to solve them.“


„The present writer had occasion, some time ago, to call attention to the succession of layers of "laws of nature," each layer containing more general and more encompassing laws than the previous one and its discovery constituting a deeper penetration into the structure of the universe than the layers recognized before. However, the point which is most significant in the present context is that all these laws of nature contain, in even their remotest consequences, only a small part of our knowledge of the inanimate world. All the laws of nature are conditional statements which permit a prediction of some future events on the basis of the knowledge of the present, except that some aspects of the present state of the world, in practice the overwhelming majority of the determinants of the present state of the world, are irrelevant from the point of view of the prediction.“

„The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.“

„Let me end on a more cheerful note. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.“ The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

„Relativity theory applies to macroscopic bodies, such as stars. The event of coincidence, that is, in ultimate analysis of collision, is the primitive event in the theory of relativity and defines a point in space-time, or at least would define a point if the colliding panicles were infinitely small. Quantum theory has its roots in the microscopic world and, from its point of view, the event of coincidence, or of collision, even if it takes place between particles of no spatial extent, is not primitive and not at all sharply isolated in space-time. The two theories operate with different mathematical conceptsãthe four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space, respectively. So far, the two theories could not be united, that is, no mathematical formulation exists to which both of these theories are approximations. All physicists believe that a union of the two theories is inherently possible and that we shall find it. Nevertheless, it is possible also to imagine that no union of the two theories can be found. This example illustrates the two possibilities, of union and of conflict, mentioned before, both of which are conceivable.“ The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

„A much more difficult and confusing situation would arise if we could, some day, establish a theory of the phenomena of consciousness, or of biology, which would be as coherent and convincing as our present theories of the inanimate world. Mendel's laws of inheritance and the subsequent work on genes may well form the beginning of such a theory as far as biology is concerned. Furthermore,, it is quite possible that an abstract argument can be found which shows that there is a conflict between such a theory and the accepted principles of physics. The argument could be of such abstract nature that it might not be possible to resolve the conflict, in favor of one or of the other theory, by an experiment. Such a situation would put a heavy strain on our faith in our theories and on our belief in the reality of the concepts which we form. It would give us a deep sense of frustration in our search for what I called "the ultimate truth." The reason that such a situation is conceivable is that, fundamentally, we do not know why our theories work so well. Hence, their accuracy may not prove their truth and consistency. Indeed, it is this writer's belief that something rather akin to the situation which was described above exists if the present laws of heredity and of physics are confronted.“ The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

„Considered from this point of view, the fact that some of the theories which we know to be false give such amazingly accurate results is an adverse factor. Had we somewhat less knowledge, the group of phenomena which these "false" theories explain would appear to us to be large enough to "prove" these theories. However, these theories are considered to be "false" by us just for the reason that they are, in ultimate analysis, incompatible with more encompassing pictures and, if sufficiently many such false theories are discovered, they are bound to prove also to be in conflict with each other. Similarly, it is possible that the theories, which we consider to be "proved" by a number of numerical agreements which appears to be large enough for us, are false because they are in conflict with a possible more encompassing theory which is beyond our means of discovery. If this were true, we would have to expect conflicts between our theories as soon as their number grows beyond a certain point and as soon as they cover a sufficiently large number of groups of phenomena. In contrast to the article of faith of the theoretical physicist mentioned before, this is the nightmare of the theorist.“ The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

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