Bryce DeWitt

Bryce Seligman DeWitt ( born January 8, 1923 in Dinuba, California, † 23 September 2004 in Austin ) was an American theoretical physicist.


DeWitt studied at Harvard University, where he in 1943 took his bachelor's degree, master's degree earned in 1947 ( according to a study break as a naval aviator in World War II ) and received his doctorate in 1950 with Julian Schwinger. He worked 1949/1950 ( and 1954, 1964, 1966) at the Institute for Advanced Study was 1950 with Wolfgang Pauli at the ETH Zurich and then as a Fulbright Fellow at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. In 1952 he was back in the U.S. and went to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he performed hydrodynamic calculations in nuclear weapons research. Later he was able to apply the expertise gained there in astrophysics. He was from 1956 professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( at the Institute for Field Physics ) and from 1972 professor at the University of Texas at Austin (Texas), where he was from 1972 to 1986 director of the Center of Relativity. In 2000 he retired. In 2004, he died of pancreatic cancer.

DeWitt worked on quantum gravity, where even in the 1950s he (it was the subject of his PhD) and 1960s, a pioneer of the methods of quantization of gravity and was of the kindred with the gravitational Yang-Mills theories. In the late 1950s he developed the Green function formalism for curved space-times. In the early 1960s, he expanded the Richard Feynman (Warsaw conference 1961) found quantization for gravitational and Yang-Mills theories in higher order of perturbation theory ( Feynman had them for the lowest -order, 1- Schleifennäherung formulated ). Later he also worked on supersymmetry ( and super -manifolds ) and the supergravity. DeWitt is known among other things for the Wheeler - DeWitt equation, a kind of Schrödinger equation for the wave function of the universe. In the general theory of relativity, he treated the problem of free-falling electric charges. He gave the relative state formula tion of Hugh Everett's many-worlds the name of interpretation and was an avid proponent of this interpretation of quantum mechanics.

1975/76 he was a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1953 he was awarded the Gravity Research Foundation. In 2002 he received the Pomeranchuk Prize. In 2005 he received the Einstein Award of the American Physical Society. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1987 he was awarded the Dirac Medal ( ICTP ).

DeWitt was married since 1951 with the physicist Cecile DeWitt - Morette, who also conducted research on gravitational theory and mathematical physics and professor in Austin was. With her he had four daughters. In 1973 he led an expedition with his wife to repeat the classical tests of general relativity via deflection of light of fixed stars at the edge of the sun during a total solar eclipse in Mauritania. His wife was also the founder of the Les Houches Summer School in France, where DeWitt also participated from the beginning. With his wife, he was awarded the Marcel Grossmann price.


  • Quantization of Geometry, in Louis Witten Gravitation an introduction into current research, 1962.
  • Quantum Gravity - The New Synthesis, in Hawking, Israel General Relativity to Einstein Centenary Survey, Cambridge 1979.
  • Dynamical Theory of Groups and Fields, Gordon and Breach 1965.
  • With Brehme: Radiation Damping in the Gravitational Field, Annals of Physics, Vol 9, 1960, pp. 220, Falling Charges, Physics, Vol 1, 1965, p 3
  • Quantum Theory of Gravity, Part 1-3, Physical Review, Vol 160, 1967, p 113, Vol 162, 1967, S. 1195, 1239th
  • Publisher Relativity, Groups and Topology, Les Houches Lectures (Grenoble 1963), London, Blackie, 1964.
  • Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime, Physics Reports, Volume 190, 1975, p 295
  • Supermanifolds, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition 1992.
  • The Global Approach to Quantum Field Theory, 2 volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2004.
  • Steven Christensen (Editor): Bryce DeWitt 's Lectures on Gravitation, Springer Verlag, 2011.