Louis Witten

Louis Witten (born April 13, 1921) is an American theoretical physicist and the father of Edward Witten.

Louis W. Witten
Born (1921-04-13) April 13, 1921
Baltimore, Maryland
Alma materJohns Hopkins University (PhD)
Princeton University (postdoctoral research)
Known forGravitation
Electrovacuum solution
Einstein field equation
ChildrenEdward Witten
Matt Witten
Celia Witten
Jesse Witten
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
InstitutionsPrinceton University
University of Cincinnati
University of Florida

Witten's research has centered on classical gravitation, including the discovery of certain exact electrovacuum solutions to the Einstein field equation. He edited a review (see citation below) which contains papers by contributors such as ADM (Arnowitt, Deser, and Misner), Choquet-Bruhat, Ehlers and Kundt, Goldberg, and Pirani which are used by researchers after the passage of more than 40 years.

Early life and education

Louis Witten was born to a Jewish family in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents, Abraham Witten and Bessie Perman, emigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe as teenagers in 1909 and were married in 1916. Witten graduated as a Civil Engineer from The Johns Hopkins University in 1941. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the US Army Air Forces as a Radar Weather Officer.

He was a graduate student in physics at The Johns Hopkins University from 1948 to 1951 when he received the PhD degree. His dissertation, in statistical mechanics, was entitled "A Model of an Imperfect Gas". His thesis advisor was Theodore H. Berlin. In 1949 he married Lorraine Wollach of Baltimore. They had four children, Edward, Celia, Matthew, and Jesse. Lorraine died in 1987. In 1992 he married Frances Lydia DeLange.

Academic career

After postdoctoral study at Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and the Lincoln Laboratory of MIT, Witten joined RIAS, the research laboratory of the Martin Marietta Corporation. In 1968 he became a Professor of Physics at the University of Cincinnati where he remained until his retirement in 1991. He is also emeritus at the University of Florida. Since 1968 he has been a Vice-President and Director of Science Affairs of the Gravity Research Foundation.

He participated in a conference held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from January 18–23, 1957 "to discuss the role of gravitation in physics".[note 1]


  • Witten, Louis (editor) (1962). Gravitation: an Introduction to Current Research. New York: Wiley.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)


  1. The other participants were: J. L. Anderson, Valentine Bargmann, R. W. Bass, F. J. Belinfante, P. G. Bergmann, Hermann Bondi, Dieter Brill, M. J. Buckingham, W. R. Davis, Stanley Deser, Bryce S. DeWitt, C. M. DeWitt, R. H. Dicke, Frederick J. Ernst, F. B. Estabrook, R. N. Euwema, R. P. Feynman, Y. Foures, Thomas Gold, J. N. Goldberg, Peter Havas, Michel Kervaire, B. N. Kursunoglu, Bertel Laurent, André Lichnerowicz, Arthur E. Lilley, R. W. Lindquist, C. W. Misner, Raymond Mjolsness, Ezra T. Newman, F. A. E. Pirani, Nathan Rosen, Léon Rosenfeld, Helmut Salecker, Alfred Schild, Ralph Schiller, Dennis Sciama, M. A. Tonnelat, Ryoyu Utiyama, Joseph Weber, J. A. Wheeler.[1]


  1. Cécile M. DeWitt; Dean Rickles (2011). The Role of Gravitation in Physics: Report from the 1957 Chapel Hill Conference. epubli. p. 35. ISBN 978-3-86931-963-6.

Further reading

  • Mansouri, Freydoon & Scanio, Joseph J. (1993). Topics on Quantum Gravity and Beyond: Essays in honor of Louis Witten on his Retirement. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 981-02-1290-9.
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