Tag Archives: Dirac Equation

Celebrating Dirac’s Nobel Prize

This December is the 85th anniversary of Paul Dirac’s Nobel Prize for Physics. Dirac was an English theoretical physicist who became a fundamental contributor to the development of quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics. The Dirac Equation, which was formulated in 1928, described the behavior of fermions, or subatomic particles, and predicted the existence of antimatter.

In 1933, just a few years after the creation of this equation, Dirac became the youngest theoretical physicist to receive the award. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics alongside Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian physicist who, like Dirac, developed a number of fundamental results in quantum and atomic theory. Dirac’s discoveries led to him being famously known as the “Father of Modern Physics.”

Telegram from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science informing Paul Dirac that he and Professor Schrodinger are being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
Telegram from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science informing Paul Dirac that he and Professor Erwin Schrodinger are being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1933. See original item here.

FSU Special Collections & Archives houses The Paul A.M. Dirac Papers which contains photographs, correspondence, books, manuscripts of scientific papers, and calculations. Images of Dirac with famous individuals within the scientific community such as Albert Einstein or Werner Heisenberg and dozens of letters to Dirac after his receiving of the Nobel Prize can also be found in the collection. You can also explore more of the collection’s Nobel Prize materials, as well as other digitized materials, in DigiNole, FSU’s digital repository.

Written by Michaela Westmoreland, an Editing, Writing, and Media undergraduate student working as a Library and Museum Assistant with the Special Collections & Archives of FSU’s Strozier Library. This semester, she has been working directly with The Paul A.M. Dirac Papers to create metadata records for the photographs of the collection for future digitization.

Happy Birthday Paul Dirac!

Paul Dirac Shown on a Country Road, June 1927
Paul Dirac shown on a Country Road, June 1927

Born on August 8, 1902, Paul A. M. Dirac would go on to be a Nobel Prize winning physicist, sharing the prize with Edwin Schrödinger in 1933 for their work in atomic theory. Dirac’s work over his academic career at Cambridge and later at Florida State University was in quantum mechanics. His Dirac Equation, which describes the behavior of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter, was among his many contributions to the field over his lifetime. In 1971, he moved to Tallahassee, Florida to work at Florida State University. He died in Tallahassee on October 20, 1984.

His papers now reside in Special Collections & Archives at Florida State University. You may see a complete finding aid of the collection here. Among his papers are his early works in mathematics, his handwritten dissertation on quantum mechanics and other drafts of his publications along with family papers and photographs. Special Collections also holds the Dirac Equation as written out on the chalkboard by Dirac himself. We’re currently working on a re-housing project and several digitization projects with the Dirac papers. A small portion of the Dirac Papers are already available in the Florida State University Digital Library.

Look for more on his collection and life on this blog as we complete more digitization projects with his collection. In the meantime, a very happy birthday to Dr. Dirac!

Dirac Equation preserved on a chalkboard
Dirac Equation preserved on a chalkboard