Meet Our Physicists

Michael Cohen


Michael Cohen is a condensed matter physicist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. His work investigates the quantum mechanics of real-world material systems, including liquid helium, ferroelectrics, and biological membranes. In 1960, the American Physical Society appointed him Fellow. In 1962, with colleagues George Stranahan and Robert W. Craig, Cohen co-founded the Aspen Center for Physics (ACP), generated initial support from the US Office of Naval Research and the Needmor Fund to finance the center’s first building, and drew in physicists for the ACP’s early scientific programs. In 2011, Cohen completed a textbook entitled, Classical Mechanics: a Critical Introduction, in collaboration with fellow physicist Larry Gladney, who prepared the solutions manual.

Cohen earned his B.S. degree at Cornell University in 1951. Under the supervision of Richard Feynman, with whom he published papers on the physics of liquid helium, Cohen earned his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1956. Cohen held postdoctoral positions at Caltech and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University before joining the faculty in the Department of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Positions Held

Founder, 1962
Trustee, 1968 – 1976
Treasurer, 1968 – 1974
Vice President, 1974 – 1976
Honorary Trustee, 1976 – current

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Michael Cohen, portrait by Bernice Durand

The Tent City That Never Was

By Michael Cohen

Surely you were joking, Mr. Cohen. The notion of a bunch of physicists living in tents and exchanging thoughts when not fending off bears is ridiculous. (More so than seven curled-up dimensions?) In retrospect, my concept of a tent city was a metaphor for the idea of a group of physicists doing their own thing […]