The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

Graham Farmelo

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 0465022103

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Paul Dirac was among the greatest scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of Einstein's most admired colleagues, he helped discover quantum mechanics, and his prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics. In 1933 he became the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Dirac's personality, like his achievements, is legendary. The Strangest Man uses previously undiscovered archives to reveal the many facets of Dirac's brilliantly original mind.





















artichokes. The climax was the chef’s pièce de résistance dessert: ice-cream bombes that shone in the dark after they had been doused in alcohol and set alight.11 Afterwards, each laureate was expected to make a short speech, customarily a few pieties of gratitude and reflection, laced with self-deprecating wit. After the first speech - given by Ivan Bunin, winner of the prize for literature - Dirac rose from his seat and walked to the rostrum, where, as usual, he shed his shyness. After paying

force destroyed the liberty and crushed the freedom of scientific thought in Germany and is trying to do the same in all the world. My greetings to all friends united in their will for fighting to complete victory for the freedom of all people for the freedom of scientific thought so dear to our two countries.54 Later during the conflict, Dirac was moved to similarly grand words in a rare letter to Kapitza. After offering his ‘hearty congratulations’ to Kapitza on his second Stalin Prize, Dirac

since Sir Isaac Newton. Dirac’s retirement passed without ceremony, probably because the university authorities assumed that Dirac would feel uncomfortable if he was the cynosure of a leaving party. This was an error, though an understandable one: Dirac would have liked his contribution to the university to be marked officially as his sense of propriety was, contrary to the impression he gave, stronger than his aversion to ceremony.51 Manci was disgusted. But she was gratified by the sensitivity

Halpern in their Tallahassee redoubt, the new discoveries left him cold, and he appeared to take no great pleasure to see other theoreticians find a way of describing strong interactions using field theory, which he had pioneered, as scattering matrices fell into disuse. He no longer kept up to date with the latest physics journals and was beginning to make errors in his science, though no one was ungracious enough to say so in public.27 By the mid-1970s, Dirac had lost interest in particle

he suggested that they might be granted the freedom to form ‘almost independent states and be enabled to undertake their largest experiments without consulting the outside world’.12 The theoretical basis for Bernal’s thinking was supplied by Marxism, which seemed to him and his friends to provide a framework for the solution of every social, political and economic problem. Bernal and his colleagues at first made slow progress in converting colleagues to Marxist thinking, partly because of

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