Early Quantum Electrodynamics: A Sourcebook

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Overview

This book provides a panoramic view from 1927-1938 of the development of a physical theory that has been on the cutting-edge of theoretical physics ever since P. A. M. Dirac's quantization of the electromagnetic field in 1927: quantum electrodynamics. Like the classic papers chosen for this volume, the introductory Frame-Setting Essay emphasizes conceptual transformations which carried physicists to the threshold of renormalization theory. The published papers and correspondence of Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac and Pauli provide a fascinating analysis of the meaning and structure of a scientific theory. This book goes beyond the historical and philosophical into current physics. Unavailability of English-language versions of certain key papers, some of which are provided in this book, has prevented their implications from being fully realized. Awareness of research from sixty years ago could well provide insights for future developments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Professor Miller has produced yet another remarkable book in the history of modern physics. ... This book should provide a valuable resource for an extended history and philosophical analysis of quantum field theory.' James T. Cushing, Centaurus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521568913
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Notes to the Preface; Acknowledgements; Notes to the Reader; 1. From quantum mechanics toward quantum electrodynamics; 1.1. Niels Bohr's atomic theory, 1913-23; 1.2. The coupling mechanism; 1.3. Virtual oscillators; 1.4. Quantum mechanics versus wave mechanics; 1.5. Intrinsic symmetry; 1.6. Transformation theory and word meanings; 1.7. The uncertainty principle paper; 1.8. Complementarity; 1.9. Conclusion; 2. Second quantization; 2.1. Jordan's 1926 results; 2.2. Dirac's quantization of the electromagnetic field; 2.3. Jordan's quantization of bosons and fermions; 2.4. Jordan and Pauli's relativistic quantization of charge-free electromagnetic fields; 3. Photons and relativistic electrons; 3.1. The Dirac equation; 3.2. Heisenberg and Pauli on quantum electrodynamics, 1929; 3.3. The electron's mass in classical and quantum electrodynamics; 3.4. From negative energy states to positrons; 4. Quantum electrodynamics; 4.1. Measurement problems in a quantum theory of the electromagnetic field; 4.2. Heisenberg's first attempt at a fundamental length; 4.3. An 'intuitive' time-dependent perturbation theory; 4.4. Multiple-time theory, hole theory and second quantization; 4.5. Dirac at Solvay in 1933: vacuum polarization; 4.6. The Heisenberg-Pauli collaboration on positron theory; 4.7. The subtraction physics; 4.7.1. Dirac defines the problem; 4.7.2. Weisskopf's calculation of the electron's self-energy in hole theory; 4.7.3. Beyond the correspondence principle; 4.7.4. Heisenberg's formulation of subtraction physics; 4.7.5. Some reactions to Heisenberg; 4.8. Quantization of the Klein-Gordon equation: the Pauli-Weisskopf statistics.

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