How a scientist you never heard of made String Theory possible

Paul Halpern in Medium:

1-jBHiPADEY2dq_vJA_5zDPQWhen he died on September 7, 2012, theoretical physicist Claud W. Lovelace left behind a house filled with parakeets. With no family or close companions, the eccentric Rutgers professor loved to be surrounded by his colorful fine-feathered friends and listen to classical music as he contemplated the nuances of unified field theory. A loner not particularly close to his colleagues, members of the Physics and Astronomy department were astounded and delighted when he willed his entire fortune of $1.5 million to it. The funds were used to help establish endowed positions in practical fields of physics, a far cry from his own speculative work. He also willed his collection of more than 4000 classical CDs to Rutgers’ School of the Arts and donated his body to its Medical School.

While Lovelace’s death was little noted in the media — he certainly wasn’t well-known even among physicists outside of string theory — arguably one of his key findings about the high number of dimensions needed for string theory’s consistency had a critical impact on the history of the field. The surprising result established him as one of the most influential theoreticians of the early 1970s. String theorists still grapple with its repercussions.

Let’s step back to 1970, when string theory was in its infancy.

More here.