Edward Witten Biography, Age, Net worth, physicist and professor of mathematical physics, Other work, Awards

Edward Witten Biography

Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He is also a researcher in string theory, quantum gravity, supersymmetric quantum field theories, and other areas of mathematical physics. In addition to his contributions to physics, Witten’s work has significantly impacted pure mathematics.

In 1990, he became the first physicist to be awarded a Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union, awarded for his 1981 proof of the positive energy theorem in general relativity.

Edward Witten Age

Edward Witten was born on August 26, 1951, in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Edward Witten is 67 years old 2018.

Edward Witten Net worth

Edward Witten acquires his income from his business investments and his work on theoretical physicist and professor of mathematical physics. He also gets income from the international awards industry. His investments funds are estimated to be $12 billion. He has an estimated net worth of $1 billion.

Edward Witten Education

Edward Witten attended the Park School of Baltimore (class of ’68), and he received a degree in Bachelor of Arts with a major in history and minor in linguistics from Brandeis University in 1971. He went on publishing articles in The New Republic and The Nation. He then attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison for one semester as an economics graduate student before dropping out.

He returned to academia, where he enrolled in applied mathematics at Princeton University in 1973, then shifting departments and receiving a Ph.D. in physics in 1976 under David Gross, the 2004 Nobel laureate in Physics. He held a fellowship at Harvard University (1976–77), visited Oxford University (1977–78), was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows (1977–1980), and held a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (1982).

Edward Witten Image

Edward Witten married Chiara Nappi an Italian physicist. Her research areas have included mathematical physics, particle physics, and string theory.

Edward Witten Children

Edward Witten has two children both daughters, Daniela Witten, and Ilana Witten.

Edward Witten physicist and professor of mathematical physics

Edward Witten was awarded the Fields Medal award by the International Mathematical Union in 1990, becoming the first physicist to win the prize. Michael Atiyah said in a written address to the ICM,  that Witten, Although he is definitely a physicist (as his list of publications clearly shows) his command of mathematics is rivaled by few mathematicians, and his ability to interpret physical ideas in mathematical form is quite unique. Time and again he has surprised the mathematical community by a brilliant application of physical insight leading to new and deep mathematical theorems.

He has made a profound impact on contemporary mathematics. In his hands, physics provides him with a rich source of inspiration and insight in mathematics. Edward Witten (left) with mathematician Shigefumi Mori, probably at the ICM in 1990 where they received the Fields Medal. As an example of Witten’s work in pure mathematics, Atiyah cites his application of techniques from quantum field theory to the mathematical subject of low-dimensional topology. In the late 1980s, Witten coined the term topological quantum field theory for a certain type of physical theory in which the expectation values of observable quantities encode information about the topology of spacetime.

In particular, Witten realized that a physical theory now called Chern Simons theory could provide a framework for understanding the mathematical theory of knots and 3-manifolds. Although Witten’s work was based on the mathematically ill-defined notion of a Feynman path integral and was therefore not mathematically rigorous, mathematicians were able to systematically develop Witten’s ideas, leading to the theory of Reshetikhin–Turaev invariants. Another result for which Witten was awarded the Fields Medal was his proof in 1981 of the positive energy theorem in general relativity.

His theorem asserts that (under appropriate assumptions) the total energy of a gravitating system is always positive and can be zero only if the geometry of spacetime is that of flat Minkowski space. It establishes Minkowski space as a stable ground state of the gravitational field. While the original proof of this result due to Richard Schoen and Shing-Tung Yau used variational methods, his proof used ideas from supergravity theory to simplify the argument.

A third area mentioned in Atiyah’s address is Witten’s work relating supersymmetry and Morse theory, a branch of mathematics that studies the topology of manifolds using the concept of a differentiable function. Witten’s work gave physical proof of a classical result, the Morse inequalities, by interpreting the theory in terms of supersymmetric quantum mechanics.

By the mid-1990s, physicists working on string theory had developed five different consistent versions of the theory. These versions are known as type I, type IIA, type IIB, and the two flavors of heterotic string theory (SO(32) and E8×E8). The thinking was that out of these five candidate theories, only one was the actual correct theory of everything, and that theory was the one whose low-energy limit matched the physics observed in our world today.

Speaking at the string theory conference at the University of Southern California in 1995, Witten made the surprising suggestion that these five string theories were in fact not distinct theories, but different limits of a single theory which he called M-theory. His proposal was based on the observation that the five string theories can be mapped to one another by certain rules called dualities and are identified by his best qualities.  Witten’s announcement led to a flurry of work now known as the second superstring revolution.

 Edward Witten Other work

Edward Witten had other contributions to physics which led to the result of gauge/gravity duality. In 1997, Juan Maldacena formulated a result known as the AdS/CFT correspondence, which establishes a relationship between certain quantum field theories and theories of quantum gravity. Maldacena’s discovery has dominated high energy theoretical physics for the past 15 years because of its applications to theoretical problems in quantum gravity and quantum field theory. Witten’s foundational work following Maldacena’s result has shed light on this relationship.

In collaboration with Nathan Seiberg, Witten established several powerful results in quantum field theories. In their paper on string theory and noncommutative geometry, Seiberg and Witten studied certain noncommutative quantum field theories that arise as limits of string theory. In another well-known paper, they studied aspects of supersymmetric gauge theory. The latter paper, combined with Witten’s earlier work on topological quantum field theory, led to developments in the topology of smooth 4-manifolds, in particular, the notion of Seiberg–Witten invariants.

With Anton Kapustin, he has made deep mathematical connections between S-duality of gauge theories and the geometric Langlands correspondence. Partly in collaboration with Seiberg, one of his recent interests include aspects of the field-theoretical description of topological phases in condensed matter and non-supersymmetric dualities in field theories that, among other things, are of high relevance in condensed matter theory. From a generalization of SYK models from condensed matter and quantum chaos, he has also recently brought tensor models of Garau to the relevance of holographic and quantum gravity theories.

In general, Witten has done influential and insightful works in many aspects of quantum field theories and mathematical physics, including the physics and mathematics of anomalies, integrability, dualities, localization, homologies and so on. Many of his results have deeply influenced many areas in theoretical physics (often well beyond the original context of his results), including string theory, quantum gravity, and topological condensed matter.

 Edward Witten Awards and honors

Edward Witten has been honored with numerous awards including a MacArthur Grant (1982), the Fields Medal (1990), the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (2000), the National Medal of Science (2002), Pythagoras Award (2005), the Henri Poincaré Prize (2006), the Crafoord Prize (2008), the Lorentz Medal (2010) the Isaac Newton Medal (2010) and the Fundamental Physics Prize(2012). Since 1999, he has been a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (London), and in March 2016 was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.Pope Benedict XVI appointed Witten as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (2006). He also appeared in the list of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2004. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In an informal poll at a 1990 cosmology conference, Witten received the largest number of mentions as “the smartest living physicist”.

 Edward Witten Selected publications

  • Some Problems in the Short Distance Analysis of Gauge Theories. Princeton University, 1976. (Dissertation.)
  • Roman Jackiw, David Gross, Sam B. Treiman, Edward Witten, Bruno Zumino. Current Algebra and Anomalies: A Set of Lecture Notes and Papers. World Scientific, 1985.
  • Green, M., John H. Schwarz, and E. Witten. Superstring Theory. Vol. 1, Introduction. Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN 9780521357524.
  • Green, M., John H. Schwarz, and E. Witten. Superstring Theory. Vol. 2, Loop Amplitudes, Anomalies, and Phenomenology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN 9780521357531.
  • Quantum fields and strings: a course for mathematicians. Vols. 1, 2. Material from the Special Year on Quantum Field Theory held at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1996–1997. Edited by Pierre Deligne, Pavel Etingof, Daniel S. Freed, Lisa C. Jeffrey, David Kazhdan, John W. Morgan, David R. Morrison, and Edward Witten. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI; Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, NJ, 1999. Vol. 1: xxii+723 pp.; Vol. 2: pp. i–xxiv and 727–1501. ISBN 0-8218-1198-3, 81–06 (81T30 81Txx).

 Edward Witten Books

  • Chemistry: Principles & Practice
  • General Chemistry

 Edward Witten Email

  • Office Location: IAS

 Edward Witten Quotes

  • I don’t care about movies. I tend to play badminton once a week.
  • One of the basic things about a string is that it can vibrate in many different shapes or forms, which gives the music its beauty.
  • As far as extra dimensions are concerned, very tiny extra dimensions wouldn’t be perceived in everyday life, just as atoms aren’t: we see many atoms together but we don’t see atoms individually.
  • Spreading out the particle into a string is a step in the direction of making everything we’re familiar with fuzzy. You enter a completely new world where things aren’t at all what you’re used to.
  • We know a lot of things, but what we don’t know is a lot more.
  • As for the forces, electromagnetism, and gravity, we experience in everyday life. But the weak and strong forces are beyond our ordinary experience. So in physics, lots of the basic building blocks take 20th- or perhaps 21st-century equipment to explore.
  • As of now, string theorists have no explanation of why there are three large dimensions as well as time, and the other dimensions are microscopic. Proposals about that have been all over the map.
  • Even before string theory, especially as physics developed in the 20th century, it turned out that the equations that really work in describing nature with the most generality and the greatest simplicity are very elegant and subtle.

Edward Witten Youtube Interview