John Bell in Belfast: Early Years and Education

  • Andrew Whitaker


In this paper I shall sketch an account of John Bell’s upbringing in Belfast, his family influences and his education [1]. As well as giving a general description, I shall attempt to see if there may be anything in his upbringing that can explain in any way the direction his career took. Of course there can and should be no attempt to explain genius, but we may wonder why his particular genius took him towards analysis of the structure and interpretation of the quantum theory, an area of physics almost completely disregarded at the time he took it up.


Quantum Theory Primary Term Technical High School Heisenberg Principle Pass Degree 
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  1. 1.
    For general biographical information on John Bell see, for example, J. Bernstein: Quantum Profiles (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton 1991 )Google Scholar
  2. M. Bell: in Quantum Mechanics, High Energy Physics and Accelerators: Selected Papers of John S. Bell, ed. by M. Bell, K. Gottfried, M. Veltman ( World Scientific, Singapore 1995 ) pp. 1–2Google Scholar
  3. A. Whitaker: Phys. World 11 (12), 29 (1998)Google Scholar
  4. P.G. Burke, I.C. Percival: Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London 45, 1 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. M. Bell: in Quantum Reflections,ed. by J. Ellis, D. Amati (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2000) pp. xi – xiv Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    L.W. Kerr: unpublished memoirGoogle Scholar
  7. 3.
    L.I. Schiff: Quantum Mechanics, 1st edn. ( McGraw-Hill, New York 1949 )Google Scholar
  8. 4.
    E.J. Squires: The Mystery of the Quantum World, 2nd edn. ( Institute of Physics, Bristol 1994 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 5.
    J.S. Bell: Physics World 3 (8), 33 (1990)Google Scholar
  10. 6.
    M. Born: Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1949 )Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

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  • Andrew Whitaker

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