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 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 (lead singer of the 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 Ph.D. thesis, postulated 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 “lifelong atheist,” according to The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III (2010) by Peter Byrne. During his time at the 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).

He died in 1982 at age 51 of a heart attack and had been in poor health from smoking, drinking and obesity. 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.” His wife kept his ashes in an urn for a few years before allegedly complying with his wishes. D. 1982.

Photo: Everett at age 34.

Freedom From Religion Foundation