John von Newmann

Mathematician

Early Life and Education

John von Neumann showed signs of genius in childhood. He could quickly memorize a page from a telephone book and recite back all the numbers and addresses. After his secondary schooling in 1921, his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in mathematics.
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John von Neumann photo.

1921-1930 Career

John von Neumann started establishing axiomatic foundations. In 1926, he did postdoctoral work at the University of Gottingen. There, he proved that hidden variables cannot underlie quantum phenomena. This played a strong role in convincing physicists to accept the quantum theory.

Princeton University

In 1929, he was asked to lecture about the quantum theory at Princeton University. He was a mediocre teacher who could quickly write on a blackboard and erase his work fast enough so that his students couldn't copy what he had written. Other accomplishments include proof of quasi-ergodic hypothesis and work in the lattice method.
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Photo of John von Neumann standing by his work.

1930-1942

In 1930 John von Neumann married Mariette Kovesi. They had a child named Maria who became an economist. In 1933 when he was a professor at Princeton, Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany. Because of this, he relinquished his German academic posts. Later, he was divorced with Mariette Kovesi because she fell in love with a physicist. Shortly after that, Neumann fell in love with an already married woman who divorced her current husband to marry Neumann.

World War II and postwar

Neumann helped with designing the atomic bomb. He compared the difficulty of this design to crushing a soda can without spilling any soda. After continuous trial and error, he found a chemical that would provide the exact degree of symmetry needed to make the bomb. In 1944, after the war, he provided important ideas in inventing the hydrogen bomb. In conclusion, with all of his crucial work in the quantum theory, the atomic bomb, and computer coding for the Army, Neumann has definitely made our country a different place to live in.
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A quote of John von Neumann.
The Mind of a Genius: John von Neumann I The Great Courses