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Paul Dirac

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British Physicist.

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, (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, was a member of the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami, and spent the last decade 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."


Sources:

1.) Werner Heisenberg recollects a friendly conversation among young participants at the 1927 Solvay Conference about Einstein's and Planck's views on religion. Wolfgang Pauli, Heisenberg and Dirac took part in it. Among other things, Dirac said: "I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest — and as scientists honesty is our precise duty — we cannot help but admit that any religion is a pack of false statements, deprived of any real foundation. The very idea of God is a product of human imagination.[...] I do not recognize any religious myth, at least because they contradict one another.[...]" Pauli jokingly said: "Well, I'd say that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first commandment of this religion is: God does not exist and Paul Dirac is his prophet." Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-131622-9.

2.) "... I [Pauling] am not, however, militant in my atheism. The great English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac is a militant atheist. I suppose he is interested in arguing about the existence of God. I am not. It was once quipped that there is no God and Dirac is his prophet." Linus Pauling & Daisaku Ikeda (1992). A Lifeling Quest for Peace: A Dialogue. Jones & Bartlett. p. page 22. ISBN 0-86720-277-7.

3.) "Dirac was contemptuous of philosophy and, as many scientists do, professed atheism. But it was a narrow sort, mainly dismissive of religious orthodoxy. In notes he wrote in 1933, he embraces another creed: "[T]his article of faith is that the human race will continue to live for ever and will develop and progress without limit . . . Living is worthwhile if one can contribute in some small way to this endless chain of progress."" - Los Angeles Times, Sara Lippincott, August 30, 2009, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom' by Graham Farmelo].

4.) "Dirac’s story ends with a whimper. As a young man he had joked that physicists were all washed up by 30 and as he aged his powers waned. The Cambridge physics department took away his parking space and an outraged Manci insisted he take up a fellowship at Florida State University. He died in 1984, aged 82. An atheist, he was buried under a gravestone chosen by Manci. It read “because God said it should be so”." The Strangest Man: the Hidden Life of Paul Dirac by Graham Farmelo, The Telegraph, 23 Jan 2009, Helen Brown

5.) H. B. G. Casimir (2010). Haphazard Reality: Half a Century of Science. Amsterdam University Press. p. 151. ISBN 9789089642004. "Kramers was certainly not a dogmatic atheist like, for instance, Dirac in his younger years, whose attitude was summed up by Pauli in one famous sentence: "Our friend Dirac has a religion; and the main tenet of that religion is: 'There is no God and Dirac was his prophet."

6.) Denis Brian, ed. (2001). The Voice Of Genius: Conversations With Nobel Scientists And Other Luminaries. Basic Books. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9780738204475. "Interviewer: "Did you know Dirac was religious? His wife told me he believed in Jesus Christ." Pauling: "In what respect? Some say there was never any such person in existence." Interviewer: "I presume she meant as God." Pauling: "I don't think she's reliable, any more than Eugene Wigner is. He is emotional about nuclear weapons and questions about the Soviet Union, in the same way that Teller is. ...In each case I felt that the person, Hungarian, with that sort of experience involving the Soviet Union was governed to such an extent by his emotional feelings and convictions that he was no longer rational when it came to discussing problems of that sort. Rational enough on scientific matters, of course. Both Wigner and Teller are very able scientists. ...But when it came to political matters the emotional factor overcame them. In the same way, Mrs. Dirac might be speaking from an emotional basis when she said he had believed in Christ, by saying something she would like to believe about Dirac. Interviewer: "She also said she believed in telepathy — when she was thinking of her daughter, the daughter phoned, that sort of thing." Pauling: "I'm not surprised.""