Skip to content
Fellows Directory

Murray Gell-Mann

Murray Gell-Mann

Professor Murray Gell-Mann ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 1978


Murray Gell-Mann was a theoretical physicist who postulated the existence of quarks, the basic constituents of subatomic particles. Working with Richard Feynman, Murray also discovered the chiral — nonsymmetrical and nonreversible — structures of the weak interaction, the force that results when subatomic particles decay. He won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discoveries concerning elementary particles.

A fundamental constituent of matter, quarks combine to form particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are the protons and neutrons found inside atomic nuclei. Murray developed current algebra, a mathematical tool to predict the symmetry of quark models, which led to the standard theory of elementary particles. Quarks, antiquarks, and gluons are established as the elementary objects in hadron structures.

Murray coined the term ‘quark’ when he referenced the phrase “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” from James Joyce’s 1939 novel, Finnegans Wake. The quark model was independently proposed by physicist George Zweig, who called them ‘aces’, but it was Murray’s name that caught on.

Professor Murray Gell-Mann ForMemRS died on 24 May 2019.


  • Nobel Prize in Physics

    For his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.