Thomas Witten

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Thomas Witten is an American theoretical physicist working in the field of soft matter physics.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Soft matter subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical systems that are deformed or structurally altered by thermal or mechanical stress of the magnitude of thermal fluctuations

Soft matter or soft condensed matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical systems that are deformed or structurally altered by thermal or mechanical stress of the magnitude of thermal fluctuations. They include liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, granular materials, liquid crystals, and a number of biological materials. These materials share an important common feature in that predominant physical behaviors occur at an energy scale comparable with room temperature thermal energy. At these temperatures, quantum aspects are generally unimportant. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who has been called the "founding father of soft matter," received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1991 for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to the more complex cases found in soft matter, in particular, to the behaviors of liquid crystals and polymers.


Witten received his doctorate in physics in 1971 from the University of California, San Diego. He is currently the Homer J. Livingston Professor in the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago. He is known in particular for his pioneering work on diffusion-limited aggregation, [1] crumpled sheets [2] and coffee rings. [3] [4] His current research interests include polymers, complex fluids and granular materials. [5] He cowrote the "Structured Fluids: Polymers, Colloids, Surfactants" (ISBN   019958382X) together with Philip Pincus.

University of California, San Diego public university in San Diego, California, United States

The University of California, San Diego, also known as UCSD, is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, in the United States. The university occupies 2,141 acres (866 ha) near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres (466 ha). Established in 1960 near the pre-existing Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses and offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, enrolling approximately 30,000 undergraduate and 8,500 graduate students.

The James Franck Institute of the University of Chicago conducts interdisciplinary research in physics, chemistry and materials science. Scientists at the institute include those interested in condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, materials chemistry, atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics, geophysics, and biophysics.

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. The university is composed of an undergraduate college, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into five academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Divinity School and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

In 2002 he received the American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize [6] and he is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010 he held the Lorentz Chair at Leiden University. [7]

The American Physical Society (APS) is the world's second largest organization of physicists. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the prestigious Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than twenty science meetings each year. APS is a member society of the American Institute of Physics.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences United States honorary society and center for independent policy research

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It is devoted to the advancement and study of the key societal, scientific, and intellectual issues of the day.

Leiden University university in the Netherlands

Leiden University, founded in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years' War. The Dutch Royal Family and Leiden University have a close association: Queen Juliana, Queen Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander are former students. The university came into particular prominence during the Dutch Golden Age, when scholars from around Europe were attracted to the Dutch Republic due to its climate of intellectual tolerance and Leiden's international reputation. During this time Leiden was home to such figures as René Descartes, Rembrandt, Christiaan Huygens, Hugo Grotius, Baruch Spinoza and Baron d'Holbach.

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  1. T. A. Witten, Jr. & L. M. Sander (1981). "Diffusion-Limited Aggregation, a Kinetic Critical Phenomenon". Physical Review Letters. pp. 1400–1403.
  2. Thomas A. Witten (2007). "Stress focusing in elastic sheets". Reviews of Modern Physics. p. 643.
  3. University of Chicago News: Why those pesky rings? Fundamental physics revealed in a drop of java
  4. Robert D. Deegan, Olgica Bakajin, Todd F. Dupont, Greb Huber, Sidney R. Nagel and Thomas A. Witten (1997). "Capillary flow as the cause of ring stains from dried liquid drops". Nature. p. 827.
  5. University of Chicago News Profile
  6. 2002 Polymer Physics Prize Website
  7. Lorentz Chairs at Leiden University