The Greatest? Dirac's Quantum Theory of the Electron

By cjohnson | January 9, 2006 1:45 am

See here for the voting procedure, and background.

P. A. M. Dirac, The quantum theory of the electron, Proc. R. Soc. London A 117 610-612 (1928); The quantum theory of the electron Part II Proc. R. Soc. London A 118 351-361 (1928).

These two papers we’ll count as one. Brought to you by the quiet but firm hand of Paul Dirac. Where would we be today without this level of understanding of the physics of the electron. There’d be no electronics, for example. Imagine our communications without that! Can this work push out the competition, upsetting the bookies?

Make one comment, which will be your vote. (Any other comments from you on this thread will be deleted.) Feel free to tell the world what this paper means to you…. and why you voted for it over the others….. Or you can just make a comment that registers your vote, making whatever noise you want!

Voting ends 9:00pm, Jan 16th Pacific Standard Time.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Entertainment, Science
  • Paul

    Meep, meep.

  • Peter Woit

    This one has got my vote…

  • Ponderer of Things

    This gets my vote. The most useful everyday application of modern physics can be traced back to quantum behavior of electron – solid state devices, materials science, chemistry…

  • Moshe

    I am assuming this represents, at least symbolically, the beginning of quantum field theory, the framework underlying almost everything around us. Also, together with GR, the beginning of using beautiful geometry to describe the world.

  • Pascal

    +1 for both the writing style and the content

  • Plato

    Knowing of Dirac’s contribution (history from a lot of resources), I find this equally important from another perspective.

    So Yes, this is a good one although I have to ask, where is the paper itself to judge?

    Layman status, would not allow collegiate access. So this would be a “second sounding” Bleet. :)

  • DM

    vote, vote, vote.

  • Mauro Guerra


  • Scott O

    If I take this paper to be a stand-in for the development of quantum field theory, which (apologies to string theory, but you ain’t there yet) is the most complete description of reality we have today, then I can see no deeper or more beautiful result in all of physics.

  • Dallas

    Perhaps this will be a strong runner-up to Principia…

  • bittergradstudent

    Dirac is my physics hero. He calmly exposited what he needed to show. He didn’t overreach in his statements, and didn’t go around creditmongering. He simply did wonderful physics where he let an eye for truth and beuty coexist with the necessity of agreeing with experiment.

  • Alex R

    Here’s my vote: assuming that this is the “Dirac equation” paper, then this is the beginning of the first great unification of modern physics, reconciliing special relativity and quantum theory — a task that is (due to the need for UV cutoffs in quantum field theory) arguably still not complete.

  • jim

    A noise (quite a lot of noise, in fact).

  • sara


  • Samantha

    this gets my vote (if I can still vote)

  • Wowbagger

    A vote.

  • lazopolis

    yet another vote

  • Two Sheds

    Other work may be more significant, such as Einstein’s GR, but GR wasn’t represented compactly as a single paper the way this was.

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