John Henry Schwarz

John Henry Schwarz
Born (1941-11-22) November 22, 1941
North Adams, Massachusetts
Doctoral advisor Geoffrey Chew
Doctoral students Mina Aganagic
Anthony Ichiro Sanda
Cosmas Zachos
Augusto Sagnotti
Michael R. Douglas
Gerald B. Cleaver

John Henry Schwarz (born November 22, 1941) is an American theoretical physicist.[1] Along with Yoichiro Nambu, Holger Bech Nielsen, Joël Scherk, Gabriele Veneziano, Michael Green, and Leonard Susskind, he is regarded as one of the founders of string theory.

Birth and education

He studied mathematics at Harvard College (A.B., 1962) and theoretical physics at the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D., 1966), where his graduate advisor was Geoffrey Chew. For several years he was one of the very few physicists who pursued string theory as a viable theory of quantum gravity.

His work with Michael Green on anomaly cancellation in Type I string theories led to the so-called "first superstring revolution" of 1984, which greatly contributed to moving string theory into the mainstream of research in theoretical physics.[2]

Schwarz was an assistant professor at Princeton University from 1966 to 1972. He then moved to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he is currently the Harold Brown Professor of Theoretical Physics.[3]


He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and received the Dirac Medal of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in 1989, and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics of the American Physical Society in 2002. He was a fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1987.

On December 12, 2013, John Schwarz shared the Fundamental Physics Prize with Michael Green "for opening new perspectives on quantum gravity and the unification of forces."


Political activism

Advocacy for "Free and Open Scientific Inquiry" in the study of medical marijuana

On November 1, 2012, Schwarz published an article in the Huffington Post expressing his concern that research into medical marijuana is being blocked by President Barack Obama's administration despite its professed commitment to "free and open scientific inquiry." Schwarz compares the ideologically driven prohibition of scientific study in this area to the Catholic Church's imprisonment of Galileo for his heretical conclusions about the Solar System:

Last year, Dr. Susan Sisley at the University of Arizona at Phoenix attempted to conduct clinical trials of marijuana treatments for American veterans suffering from extreme post-traumatic stress disorder. She won FDA approval for a placebo-controlled pilot study on 50 veterans. Winning FDA approval would be sufficient for research on any other drug. With marijuana, however, scientists must also apply to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in order to purchase the only legal supply of marijuana. NIDA turned down Dr. Sisley’s request. As their director explained, NIDA’s mission is to support research into the harms, not the benefits, of marijuana. Essentially, NIDA’s mission is to block any research that could undermine the Schedule I status of marijuana as a dangerous narcotic, as insisted by the DEA. ... The acceptance of science has come a long way since Galileo was arrested as a heretic for questioning the order of the Universe. Yet today, the federal government ignores scientific facts accepted around the globe—not to mention the will of the American people—to cling to outdated ideological policies and restrict marijuana research.[4]

Selected publications


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