Dirac: A Scientific Biography

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This first full-length biography of Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac offers a comprehensive account of his physics in its historical context, including less known areas such as cosmology and classical electron theory. It is based extensively on unpublished sources, including Dirac's correspondence with Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Schrödinger, Gamow and others. Dirac was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and influential physicists of the twentieth century. Between 1925 and 1934, the Nobel Prize laureate revolutionized physics with his brilliant contributions to quantum theory. This work examines Dirac's successes and failures, and pays particular attention to his opposition to modern quantum electrodynamics; an opposition based on aesthetic objections.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a delightful and instructive evocation of a remarkable human being by way of a judicious and documented passage downstream following the flow of modern physics." Scientific American

"...an important, highly professional contribution to the history of quantum theory." Science

"The entire biography is harmonic and a very interesting work created from previously unpublished documents." Physics in Canada

"One of the valuable features of Kragh's fine if impersonal biography is that he dispels the myths surrounding Dirac and paints a portrait that clearly indicates Dirac's limitations without diminishing his greatness." Physics Today

"This 'scientific biography' should be widely read by physicists." Walter J. Moore, American Historical Review

"The text has accounts of his life and extraordinary character with outlines of his achievements skilfully interwoven." N. Kemmer, Nature

"...will be most appreciated by those readers already acquainted with the relevant physics and, moreover, something of its historical development." Peter R. Law, Mathematical Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521380898
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/1990
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Early years; 2. Discovery of quantum mechanics; 3. Relativity and spinning electrons; 4. Travels and thinking; 5. The dream of philosophers; 6. Quanta and fields; 7. Fifty years of a physicist's life; 8. 'The so-called quantum electrodynamics'; 9. Electrons and ether; 10. Just a disappointment; 11. Adventures in cosmology; 12. The purest soul; 13. Philosophy in physics; 14. The principle of mathematical beauty; Appendices; Bibliography of P. A. M. Dirac; Notes and references; General bibliography; Index of names; Index of subjects.

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