The New York Times, file
April 14, 2008
Physicist John A. Wheeler, April 13
John A. Wheeler, the fertile-minded physicist who popularized mind-stretching ideas about black holes, worm holes and quantum foam and also confounded admirers by helping to conceive some of the most potent weapons of mass destruction, died on Sunday, April 13, 2008, at his home in Hightstown, N.J., He was 96. In a career that spanned eight decades, the Jacksonville-born Wheeler consulted with Niels Bohr and Robert Oppenheimer to build The Bomb, helped Edward Teller with the H-bomb, argued quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein and then, in middle age, turned his nimble mind to some of the most challenging problems of cosmology: Are there multiple universes? If there are, how can we move from one to the other? Would anything exist if mankind -- the observer/participator -- wasn't around to see it? He fearlessly explored such ideas as the possibility of traveling across deep space in fanciful constructs he named wormholes, by example giving lesser-known physicists the courage to pursue cosmological questions without fear of ridicule. Along the way, he nurtured the careers of a new generation of physicists. To the end, Wheeler asked the Big Questions, adopting a personal mantra, "How come the quantum? How come existence?" "Some people think Wheeler's gotten crazy in his later years," said Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. "But he's always been crazy."