Talk:Eugene Wigner

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Good articleEugene Wigner has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
January 19, 2004Refreshing brilliant proseNot kept
August 10, 2015Good article nomineeListed
Did You Know
A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on August 23, 2015.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that on hearing of being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, Eugene Wigner confessed that he had "never expected to get my name in the newspapers without doing something wicked"?
Current status: Good article

Old talk[edit]

This is indeed a good article (it was added to brilliant prose). I always get suspicious when an anonymous person posts a good, polished article :-) --but it passes the Google test (meaning it probably wasn't online in exactly these words until now). --LMS

I'm interested in Prof. Wigner's connection to the Unification Movement of Sun Myung Moon. I know he participated in the science conference sponsored by Rev. Moons International Cultural Foundation. But what was his role?

I hate to rely on memory. Was he a conference chairman, or what?

Here's a quote I picked up on an Altavista search.

Eugene Wigner, a theoretical physicist, is (or was) on the board of directors of the Committee on the Present Danger. (25) He is a member of the advisory board of Accuracy in Media and was a member of the advisory board of Western Goals Foundation. (36) Accuracy in Media also received some of the $400,000 raised through Charles Wick's efforts at the White House (see Govt Connections). (53) Wigner received a $200,000 "founder's award" from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon--head of the Unification Church--at the 1982 Intl Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS). ICUS is an offshoot of the Moon-funded Intl Cultural Foundation. (49)


User:Ed Poor

This article omits important aspects of his influence on cosmology and the philosophy of mathematics, in particular his most-cited article "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences," 1960.

Can someone fix the template - Laureate 97 is too far off to the right. Ludvikus 07:40, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The infobox says his religion is "Jewish", I believe the correct term is Judaism, even though he was by ethnicity Jewish. The article also says the family converted to Lutheranism. And then there's the question whether he was a practicing Jew or simply Jewish. I propose removal or perhaps alteration to "Ethnicity: Jewish" if there are no sources for his religious affiliations. Naphra 19:27, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is a source saying he was Jewish. He was clearly born Jewish. At best it might be said "Jewish: converted to Lutheranism"; anything else violates WP:NOR.--Runcorn 21:04, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

in the introduction to the article it says he had SEVEN MILLION THEOREMS! is that true? if so, why isn't it sited? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Qmark42 (talkcontribs) 14:55, 22 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Involvement in self-sustaining fission reaction?[edit]

See Talk:Chicago Pile-1#Wigner missing? -- (talk) 16:35, 23 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quotes about Wigner?[edit]

Does a quote by an unreliable source that is about Rev. Moon (not Wigner) does not have place in a section of Quotes about Wigner. --Shagie (talk) 02:21, 4 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Failing to see anyone argue the opposite over the past while, I'm going to remove the section as it looks out of place and isn't about Wigner. --Shagie (talk) 06:03, 14 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And the content that was removed from the article:

  • In a 1987 appreciation of Professor Wigner, Alvin M. Weinberg stated: "...this trait of Wigner's [giving credit to his young collaborators] explains why so much, not only of reactor theory but of theoretical physics from 1930 to 1965 — though it may not bear Wigner's name — actually has origin in a suggestion made or question asked by Professor Wigner."
  • "I greatly appreciate Rev. Moon's deep concern for the present predicament of mankind. He believes that intellectuals have a particular responsibility to use their knowledge and creative imagination in the urgent talk of rebuilding society with values as the supreme guide." (quoted in Peace King, page 101)[unreliable source?]

--Shagie (talk) 06:05, 14 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

can be added[edit]

since 2005 a building of the technical university in Berlin is named after him, see Plehn (talk) 05:45, 29 December 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions and Suggestions[edit]

1. "Wigner was present at a converted squash courts ..." This is incorrect US English usage -- is it correct in British English?

No. Thank you for asking. The use of the singular indefinite article a with a regular plural courts is incorrect everywhere. The given citation didn't mention squash courts, but according to this citation, there was just one court there (for rackets, not for squash). This will be fixed momentarily. ChrisJBenson (talk) 00:31, 20 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

2. "When his duties there did not work out especially well, Wigner returned to Princeton University" This is not a very substantive comment. Either more detail should be added or a citation given for this assertion.

Agreed. Someone had already added a citation (albeit with a meta-syntax error). I'll paraphrase its text to revise the questionable clause, and hopefully fix the citation internal syntax ChrisJBenson (talk) 00:31, 20 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

3. "However, by his personal beliefs, Wigner was at heart a pacifist" This is a weak statement about one of the prime movers behind the creation of the Atomic Bomb, and, again, no reference is given. The interesting thing about Wigner is that his fear of the possibility of the Nazis attaining the Bomb was much stronger than any inherent or philosophical pacifism. This, of course, was also true of Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, Robert Oppenheimer, and others, but Wigner is a particularly good and important example of this phenomenon, which is more interesting than simple "pacifism".

I don't disagree with [User:Chordatum], but I don't disagree with the existing text either. I am not sure whether or how to change this. As I believe the existing text is probably verifiable, I won't change it myself. Others should feel free, though! ChrisJBenson (talk) 00:31, 20 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

--Chordatum (talk) 17:09, 20 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Chordatum (talkcontribs) 16:47, 20 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is a passage in the article that suggests that Wigner introduced Leo Szilard to Albert Einstein in 1939. I know for a fact that Szilard and Einstein have at least one patent from 1930, its called the Einstein Refrigerator and there is an article on it on Wikipedia. Somebody should correct that. :) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Silentnogood (talkcontribs) 11:57, 10 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The lead says he was Hungarian, but when I knew him at LSU he always described himself as Austrian. A hatnote in the article says his "native" name was Wigner Jeno, but of course his native language was German, so I doubt that was his native name. Rwflammang (talk) 20:17, 31 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've sent you (User Talk: Rwflammang) a long boring message on this topic. The short version is ...:
Name: Wigner Jenő Pál. Citizenship: Hungarian (ages 0-35). Ethnicity: Ashkenazim. Ancestral homeland: Syria around 150 AD.
This response is from ChrisJBenson (talk) 11:33, 20 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm just going on what he said in the book! Hawkeye7 (talk) 11:59, 20 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are interviews with Wigner on Youtube where he speaks perfect Hungarian, and speaks fondly of Hungary, eg

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Eugene Wigner/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk · contribs) 13:34, 9 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Beginning review. I will be adding comments over the next several days. Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk) 13:34, 9 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Extensive potential copyvio found with OMICS International article on Eugene Wigner. The question is whether Wikipedia copied from Omics International, or Omics International copied from Wikipedia. This will require a bit of research Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk) 13:42, 9 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The pattern of edits over the years is generally supportive of the duplicated sections having originated through the collective effors of multiple Wikipedia editors, and the extensive duplications to be found on the web (not just the Omics article) represent copying from Wikipedia rather than copying by Wikipedia editors. Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk) 15:07, 9 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are three dead external links that need to be researched, updated, or deleted:

Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk) 22:04, 9 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The following external links do not, in my opinion, provide sufficient added value as to meet the criteria presented in the Wikipedia:External links guidelines page.

If the above pages include relevant information that is not yet a part of the article, include the information and cite the pages as sources for the article. Stigmatella aurantiaca (talk) 00:06, 10 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

performed work[edit]

I am German, and my knowledge and experience of the English language is limited. But to say that he "performed" ground-breaking work in pure mathematics, doesn't that sound like he merely acted it out? -- (talk) 16:32, 19 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Furthermore: How can a cornerstone of the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics be considered a particular case of a theorem in pure mathematics? -- (talk) 16:46, 19 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Eugene Wigner. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 13:17, 24 September 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Number of children[edit]

In the text it is mentioned that "They had two children, David Wigner and Martha Wigner Upton" (from the second marriage). However, in two other places it is mentioned that he had three children. For example at the very end: "He was survived by his wife Eileen (died 2010) and children Erika, David and Martha, and his sisters Bertha and Margit." Did I miss something? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:09, 4 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lead change[edit]

Eugene Paul "E. P." Wigner (Hungarian: Wigner Jenő Pál, pronounced [ˈviɡnɛr ˈjɛnøː ˈpaːl]; November 17, 1902 – January 1, 1995) was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist who also contributed to mathematical physics. He obtained American citizenship in 1937, and received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles".

Mentioning his American citizenship in 1937 seems repetitious - the sentence before says he is Hungarian-American. Also, his American citizenship seems far less important than his Nobel Prize, yet is mentioned first. I feel his citizenship in 1937 should be mentioned elsewhere in the lead where it chronologically makes sense. (talk) 19:56, 20 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Late-life right-wing politics?[edit]

I noticed Wigner on the advisory board of the sketchy Western Goals Foundation and added a sentence in his Later Life section, but while digging for some more details, it looks like around the same time he was on the board of The Washington Times; how does such a renowned / respected / respectable, and (as far as I can tell) publicly apolitical scientist get mixed up with multiple explicitly right-wing groups that late in life?

Will try to check his 1992 recollections, but the ToC doesn't look too promising, and no mention of either group in the Index.

Any more knowledgable editors have any pointers?

Thanks, ShadyNorthAmericanIPs (talk) 04:08, 10 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Doing some more digging; he seems to have spent the early 1960s lobbying for government spending to make a nuclear war survivable (as opposed to making it unthinkable). In 1960 the NYT reported his "wariness" on an atomic test ban, where he characterized the ban's supporters as "emotional" but demurred on making his views explicit with "I am very happy I do not make to make [that decision]". In 1963 they characterize a letter from him as supportive of the test-ban treaty, but the text is rather more hawkish. His own viewpoint is pretty clear in his 1965 letter to the NYT challenging their critique of such a "civil defense" proposal, where he characterized opposition as wanting to "furnish lives of our people as 'hostages to the good behavior of the US government'".
So he was definitely not pacifist, but those views weren't exactly fringe in the 1960s; but as the years move on, his name starts appearing in connection to more right-wing causes further removed from his area of direct expertise -- a letter of support of US policy in Cuba, a call for "order" on campuses, an announcement for the founding of a "Committee to Unite America" ("to guard morals"), lashing out at the UN over perceived anti-Israel bias, and railing against affirmative action; but, in each case, the views are attributed to a group, not Wigner specifically (though he *is* consistently cited by name, with a mention of his Nobel Laureate status to burnish the group's credibility).
Still not enough to warrant its own section, but it's enough to convince me that he didn't just accidentally sign onto some crank groups' charters without reading the fine print. ShadyNorthAmericanIPs (talk) 02:00, 22 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]