64 Facts About Paul Dirac


Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was an English theoretical physicist who is considered to be one of the founders of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.


Paul Dirac was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a professor of physics at Florida State University and the University of Miami, and a 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient.


Paul Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrodinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory".


Paul Dirac made significant contributions to the reconciliation of general relativity with quantum mechanics.


Paul Dirac was regarded by his friends and colleagues as unusual in character.


Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born at his parents' home in Bristol, England, on 8 August 1902, and grew up in the Bishopston area of the city.


Paul Dirac's father, Charles Adrien Ladislas Dirac, was an immigrant from Saint-Maurice, Switzerland who worked in Bristol as a French teacher.


Paul Dirac's mother, Florence Hannah Dirac, nee Holten, was born to a Cornish Methodist family in Liskeard, Cornwall.


Paul Dirac was named after Florence Nightingale by her father, a ship's captain, who had met Nightingale while he was a soldier during the Crimean war.


Paul Dirac's mother moved to Bristol as a young woman, where she worked as a librarian at the Bristol Central Library; despite this she still considered her identity to be Cornish rather than English.


Paul Dirac had a younger sister, Beatrice Isabelle Marguerite, known as Betty, and an older brother, Reginald Charles Felix, known as Felix, who died by suicide in March 1925.


Paul Dirac's father was strict and authoritarian, although he disapproved of corporal punishment.


When Paul Dirac found that he could not express what he wanted to say in French, he chose to remain silent.


Paul Dirac was educated first at Bishop Road Primary School and then at the all-boys Merchant Venturers' Technical College, where his father was a French teacher.


Paul Dirac studied electrical engineering on a City of Bristol University Scholarship at the University of Bristol's engineering faculty, which was co-located with the Merchant Venturers' Technical College.


Paul Dirac was permitted to skip the first year of the course owing to his engineering degree.


Under the influence of Peter Fraser, whom Paul Dirac called the best mathematics teacher, he had the most interest in prjective geometry, and began applying it to the geometrical version of relativity Minkowski developped.


Paul Dirac completed his PhD in June 1926 with the first thesis on quantum mechanics to be submitted anywhere.


Paul Dirac then continued his research in Copenhagen and Gottingen.


In 1937, Paul Dirac married Margit Wigner, a sister of physicist Eugene Wigner and a divorcee.


Paul Dirac raised Margit's two children, Judith and Gabriel, as if they were his own.


Paul and Margit Dirac had two daughters together, Mary Elizabeth and Florence Monica.


Paul Dirac was known among his colleagues for his precise and taciturn nature.


Paul Dirac himself wrote in his diary during his postgraduate years that he concentrated solely on his research, and stopped only on Sunday when he took long strolls alone.


An anecdote recounted in a review of the 2009 biography tells of Werner Heisenberg and Paul Dirac sailing on an ocean liner to a conference in Japan in August 1929.


Paul Dirac called the equation for the time evolution of a quantum-mechanical operator, which he was the first to write down, the "Heisenberg equation of motion".


Paul Dirac referred to the latter as "Bose statistics" for reasons, he explained, of "symmetry".


Paul Dirac's contribution was a criticism of the political purpose of religion, which Bohr regarded as quite lucid when hearing it from Heisenberg later.


In 1971, at a conference meeting, Paul Dirac expressed his views on the existence of God.


Paul Dirac explained that the existence of God could be justified only if an improbable event were to have taken place in the past:.


Paul Dirac did not commit himself to any definite view, but he described the possibilities for scientifically answering the question of God.


Paul Dirac established the most general theory of quantum mechanics and discovered the relativistic equation for the electron, which now bears his name.


Paul Dirac was the first to develop quantum field theory, which underlies all theoretical work on sub-atomic or "elementary" particles today, work that is fundamental to our understanding of the forces of nature.


Paul Dirac proposed and investigated the concept of a magnetic monopole, an object not yet known empirically, as a means of bringing even greater symmetry to James Clerk Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism.


Fowler sent Heisenberg's paper on to Paul Dirac, who was on vacation in Bristol, asking him to look into this paper carefully.


Paul Dirac's attention was drawn to a mysterious mathematical relationship, at first sight unintelligible, that Heisenberg had established.


Several weeks later, back in Cambridge, Paul Dirac suddenly recognised that this mathematical form had the same structure as the Poisson brackets that occur in the classical dynamics of particle motion.


Paul Dirac's formulation allowed him to obtain the quantisation rules in a novel and more illuminating manner.


Paul Dirac was famously not bothered by issues of interpretation in quantum theory.


Paul Dirac's equation contributed to explaining the origin of quantum spin as a relativistic phenomenon.


Paul Dirac is regarded as the founder of quantum electrodynamics, being the first to use that term.


Paul Dirac introduced the idea of vacuum polarisation in the early 1930s.


Paul Dirac's The Principles of Quantum Mechanics, published in 1930, is a landmark in the history of science.


In that book, Paul Dirac incorporated the previous work of Werner Heisenberg on matrix mechanics and of Erwin Schrodinger on wave mechanics into a single mathematical formalism that associates measurable quantities to operators acting on the Hilbert space of vectors that describe the state of a physical system.


In 1931, Paul Dirac proposed that the existence of a single magnetic monopole in the universe would suffice to explain the quantisation of electrical charge.


The influence and importance of Paul Dirac's work have increased with the decades, and physicists use daily the concepts and equations that he developed.


Paul Dirac was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge from 1932 to 1969.


Paul Dirac found a rather novel way of deriving the anomalous magnetic moment "Schwinger term" and the Lamb shift, afresh in 1963, using the Heisenberg picture and without using the joining method used by Weisskopf and French, and by the two pioneers of modern QED, Schwinger and Feynman.


From September 1970 to January 1971, Paul Dirac was a visiting professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee.


Paul Dirac would walk about a mile to work each day and was fond of swimming in one of the two nearby lakes, and was more sociable than he had been at the University of Cambridge, where he mostly worked at home apart from giving classes and seminars.


Paul Dirac published over 60 papers in those last twelve years of his life, including a short book on general relativity.


Paul Dirac strode to a blackboard and wrote that the laws of nature should be expressed in beautiful equations.


Paul Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize for physics with Erwin Schrodinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory".


Paul Dirac was awarded the Royal Medal in 1939 and both the Copley Medal and the Max Planck Medal in 1952.


Paul Dirac was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1930, a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1938, an Honorary Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1948, a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1949, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1950, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics, London in 1971.


Paul Dirac received the inaugural J Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize in 1969.


Paul Dirac became a member of the Order of Merit in 1973, having previously turned down a knighthood as he did not want to be addressed by his first name.


In 1984, Paul Dirac died in Tallahassee, Florida, and was buried at Tallahassee's Roselawn Cemetery.


On 13 November 1995 a commemorative marker, made from Burlington green slate and inscribed with the Paul Dirac equation, was unveiled in Westminster Abbey.


The Dean of Westminster, Edward Carpenter, initially refused permission for the memorial, thinking Paul Dirac to be anti-Christian, but was eventually persuaded to relent.


In 1975, Paul Dirac gave a series of five lectures at the University of New South Wales which were subsequently published as a book, Directions in Physics.


Paul Dirac donated the royalties from this book to the university for the establishment of the Dirac Lecture Series.


The Paul AM Dirac Science Library at Florida State University, which Manci opened in December 1989, is named in his honour, and his papers are held there.


The Distributed Research utilising Advanced Computing and Paul Dirac software are named in his honour.