Hugh Everett III

On this date in 1930, Hugh Everett III was born in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1953 from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., with a degree in chemical engineering. Everett then attended Princeton University and earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1956. He was a co-founder of the Institute for Defense Analyses in 1956. Everett founded Lambda Corp., a defense analysis organization that assisted the Pentagon, in 1964. He married Nancy Gore in 1956 and they had two children, Elizabeth Everett and Mark Oliver Everett (the lead singer of band Eels).

Everett was a physicist interested in theoretical and quantum physics who is known for developing the influential theory, “The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.” His theory, part of his 1957 Ph.D. thesis, postulates that our universe is part of a multiverse, a vast system of universes. He hypothesized that every universe is constantly splitting into alternate universes that encompass every possible event. Everett’s theory, along with his book, The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (1973), is widely studied by quantum physicists.

Everett was a “life-long atheist,” according to The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010) by Peter Byrne. During his time at Catholic University, Everett “drove devout Jesuits to distraction with scientific questioning” and even caused one of his professors to lose his faith after presenting a logical proof against the existence of god (quoted in The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III). In Mark Oliver Everett’s memoir, Things the Grandchildren Should Know (2008), he wrote: “My dad, who was a devout atheist, had once told my mom that he wanted his remains to be thrown out in the trash.” The family heeded Everett’s wishes. D. 1982

“Because of his loudly avowed atheism, he was labeled ‘the heretic’ by devout classmates.”

—Peter Byrne, writing about Hugh Everett III’s atheism in The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010).

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor; Photo in the Public Domain

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