Alumni feature: Prof. Charles W. Misner

Author: Shelly Goethals


Charles W. Misner entered Notre Dame with the Class of 1953, earned his B.S. in Physics in three years, and did four-fifths of his graduate coursework on campus the next year before going to Princeton for his Ph.D. His landmark book Gravitation, written with Ph.D. advisor John Wheeler and fellow student Kip Thorne, was first published 40 years ago, has never gone out of print. His work provided early foundations for the study of quantum gravity and numerical relativity. He wrote “The dynamics of general relativity,” a summary of papers on a formulation of general relativity, with Richard Arnowitt and Stanley Deser. That pivotal work on formalism, published in 1962, is cited in the field with their initials ADM.

Misner is professor emeritus of physics at the University of Maryland, where he started teaching in 1963. In 1993, a collection of papers in his honor, Directions in General Relativity, was published. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.