Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Bryce DeWitt talks about the relationship between James Archibald Wheeler and Hugh Everett and the idea of many worlds.

Oral history audio excerpt

Bryce DeWitt talks about the relationship between James Archibald Wheeler and Hugh Everett and the idea of many worlds.

B. DeWitt:

And Wheeler, I asked him many years later why the original article, I mean the original thing, wasn't ever published. Wheeler said, "Because I sat down with Everett and told him what to say," and you know that he wrote a sort of a supporting article to Everett's ideas in this, but then it was all quiet. No one was ever talking about Everett for many years. I had a visit in Chapel Hill from-what's his name? Max Jammer, who was writing a book on the foundations of quantum mechanics, and he had never heard of Everett. And I thought that this was scandalous, because Everett had a brand new idea, it was the first fresh idea in quantum theory in decades, and no one-he was being completely ignored. So I decided to write an article, a popular article, for Physics Today, which really put Everett on the map, and Wheeler promptly disowned Everett. The reason, as far as I can see, was it was too revolutionary an idea, this idea of many worlds. It was anti-Copenhagen; Bohr was one of Wheeler's heroes, and he didn't want to be associated with him. He has denied, he has refused to have anything to do with it in all the years since.