Paul Dirac

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Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, OM, FRS (pronounced /dɪˈræk/ di-RAK; 8 August 1902 – 20 October 1984) was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. He held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and spent the last fourteen years of his life at Florida State University.

Among other discoveries, he formulated the Dirac equation, which describes the behaviour of fermions, and predicted the existence of antimatter.

Dirac shared the Nobel Prize in physics for 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger, "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory."[2]

Contents

Early years

Paul Dirac was born in Bristol,[3] England and grew up in the Bishopston area of the city. His father, Charles Dirac, was an immigrant from Saint-Maurice in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. His mother was originally from Cornwall and the daughter of a mariner. Paul had an elder brother, Félix, who committed suicide in March 1925, and a younger sister, Béatrice. His early family life appears to have been unhappy due to his father's unusually strict and authoritarian nature. Dirac had a very strained relationship with his father, so much that after his death, he wrote, “I feel much freer now, and I am my own man.” He was forced to speak only in French at dinner, and was punished for any grammatical mistakes. Dirac chose silence over punishment. Dirac, later in life mentioned that it was not until he was 23 that he realized that parents were supposed to love their children. His hatred lasted his father's entire life.

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