Paul Dirac

5 Mar, 2020 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the theoretical physicist Dirac (1902-1984), whose achievements far exceed his general fame. To his peers, he was ranked with Einstein and, when he moved to America in his retirement, he was welcomed as if he were Shakespeare. Born in Bristol, he trained as an engineer before developing theories in his twenties that changed the understanding of quantum mechanics, bringing him a Nobel Prize in 1933 which he shared with Erwin Schrodinger. He continued to make deep contributions, bringing abstract maths to physics, beyond predicting anti-particles as he did in his Dirac Equation.

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  • Graham Farmelo 2 episodes
    Biographer of Dirac and Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge
  • Valerie Gibson No other episodes
    Professor of High Energy Physics at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College
  • David Berman 2 episodes
    Professor of Theoretical Physics at Queen Mary University of London

Reading list

  • The Magicians: Great Minds and the Central Miracle of Science
    Marcus Chown (Faber & Faber, 2020) Google Books →
  • Antimatter
    Frank Close (Oxford University Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Quantum Universe: Everything that can happen does happen
    Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Penguin, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
    P.A.M. Dirac (Oxford University Press, 1988) Google Books →
  • The Ideas of Particle Physics
    James E. Dodd and Ben Gripaios (Cambridge University Press, 2020) Google Books →
  • The Strangest Man: The hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius
    Graham Farmelo (Faber & Faber, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Universe Speaks in Numbers: How Modern Maths Reveals Nature's Deepest Secrets
    Graham Farmelo (Faber & Faber, 2020) Google Books →
  • Dirac: A Scientific Biography
    Helge Kragh (Cambridge University Press, 1990) Google Books →
  • Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics
    Anthony Zee (Princeton University Press, 2016) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 530.1 (Theoretical physics)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Paul Dirac, 1902 to 1984, made some of the greatest discoveries in 20th century physics, second only to Einstein.