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Gerald Feinberg

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Gerald Feinberg
Born(1933-05-27)May 27, 1933
DiedApril 21, 1992(1992-04-21) (aged 58)
New York City
Alma materColumbia University
Scientific career
FieldsParticle physics
InstitutionsColumbia University
ThesisMeson Production in Nucleon-Nucleon Collisions (1957)
Doctoral advisorTsung-Dao Lee
Doctoral studentsScott Dodelson

Gerald Feinberg (27 May 1933 – 21 April 1992) was a Columbia University physicist, futurist and popular science author. He spent a year as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, and two years at the Brookhaven Laboratories.[1] Feinberg went to Bronx High School of Science with Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow and obtained his bachelor's and graduate degrees from Columbia University.[2][3] His father was Yiddish poet and journalist Leon Feinberg.[4] Among his students were Scott Dodelson, physicist at Carnegie Mellon University.


He coined the term tachyon for hypothetical faster-than-light particles and analysed their quantum field properties,[5] predicted the existence of the muon neutrino[6] and advocated cryonics as a public service.[7] He was a member of the Foresight Institute's advisory panel.[8]


Feinberg wrote a foreword to Edgar Mitchell's book Psychic Explorations (1974) in which he endorsed psychic phenomena. His concept of a tachyon, a theoretical particle that travels faster than the speed of light has been advocated by some parapsychologists who claim that it could explain precognition or psychokinesis. However, there is no scientific evidence tachyon particles exist and such paranormal claims have been described as pseudoscientific.[9][10]



  • Cosmological Constants (with co-editor Jeremy Bernstein, 1986). ISBN 978-0-231-06376-0
  • Solid Clues: Quantum Physics, Molecular Biology, and the Future of Science, Simon & Schuster, 1985. ISBN 0-434-26200-5
  • Life Beyond Earth: The Intelligent Earthling's Guide to Extraterrestrial Life (with Robert Shapiro), Morrow, 1980. ISBN 0-688-08642-X
  • What is the world made of? : Atoms, leptons, quarks, and other tantalizing particles, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1977. ISBN 0-385-07694-0 & ISBN 0-385-07693-2
  • Consequences of Growth: The Prospects for a Limitless Future, Seabury Press, New York, 1977. ISBN 0-8164-9326-X Review
  • The Prometheus Project, Mankind's Search for Long-Range Goals, Anchor Books, 1969. ISBN 0-385-03613-2



  1. ^ "Gerald Feinberg, 58, Physicist; Taught at Columbia University". Retrieved 2015-03-28.
  2. ^ The Second Creation, Crease & Mann, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986
  3. ^ Columbia College (Columbia University). Office of Alumni Affairs and Development; Columbia College (Columbia University) (1988). Columbia College today. Columbia University Libraries. New York, N.Y. : Columbia College, Office of Alumni Affairs and Development.
  4. ^ "Leon Feinberg, 71, Yiddish Journalist" (PDF). The New York Times. Vol. CXVIII, no. 40542. New York, N.Y. 23 January 1969. p. 27.
  5. ^ G. Feinberg (1967). "Possibility of Faster-Than-Light Particles". Physical Review. 159 (5): 1089–1105. Bibcode:1967PhRv..159.1089F. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.159.1089.
  6. ^ M. Schwartz (1992). Nobel Lectures. World Scientific. p. 469.
  7. ^ G. Feinberg (1966). "Physics and Life Prolongation". Physics Today. 19 (11): 45–48. Bibcode:1966PhT....19k..45F. doi:10.1063/1.3047814.
  8. ^ D. Shafer (1990). "Feinberg Anxious for Policy Discussions". Foresight Update. 9: 1. Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
  9. ^ Rothman, Milton (September 1994). "Tachyons and Other Nonentities". Skeptical Inquirer. 4 (3). Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  10. ^ Carroll, Robert Todd. (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. Wiley. pp. 370-371. ISBN 0-471-27242-6

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