Gell-Mann, Murray

August 26, 2010, 5:00 pm

Murray Gell-Mann (1929-), an American physicist, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1969 for his work pertaining to the classification of subatomic particles and their interactions. In 1961, Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne'eman, an Israeli theoretical physicist, independently proposed a scheme for classifying previously discovered strongly interacting particles into a simple, orderly arrangement of families. While studying particles, he found general characteristics that allowed him to sort them into eight "families." He called this grouping the “eightfold way”, referring to Buddhist philosophy's eight attributes of right living. Gell-Mann then discovered that the eightfold way could be explained by a particle, undiscovered as yet, that had three parts (hadrons), each holding a fraction of a charge. He called them "quarks," which is a term from a passage in James Joyce’s novel Finnegan's Wake: "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" Over the years, research has yielded other findings that have led to the wide acceptance and elaboration of the quark concept.

Further Reading
Murray Gell-Mann Biography (Nobel Foundation)
Murray Gell-Mann Homepage



Cleveland, C. (2010). Gell-Mann, Murray. Retrieved from


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