Paul Dirac

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Paul Dirac

Paul A.M. Dirac (1902-1984) was a British theoretical physicist who helped develop mathematical expressions of relativistic quantum mechanics. His scientific philosophy was this: "Physical laws should have mathematical beauty and simplicity."

Dirac developed a equation of motion for the wavefunction of the electron based on relativity. Dirac predicted the existence of the positron, the electron's antiparticle, which was subsequently discovered by Carl Anderson in 1932. Dirac was awarded th eNobel Prize in 1932, the youngest scientist ever to win it. Dirac was the founder of quantum electrodynamics.

Dirac published the "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" in 1930, which introduced the widely used delta function and bra-ket notation. Inspired in part by this book, the physicist Richard Feynman later proposed a path integral formulation of quantum mechanics in 1948.

Dirac spent most of his career at Cambridge University; he later taught at Florida State University.

Dirac was such an outspoken atheist that fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli is said to had quipped: "Our friend Dirac also has a religion! The central tenet of his religion is: 'There is no God, and Dirac is His prophet.' "

further reading

  • Farmelo, Graham. The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (2009)