Paul Dirac’s life and theory examined in-depth
Dan Brown’s 2000 novel “Angels & Demons” deals with antimatters to attract great popularity _ the bestseller was made into a mystery thriller film in 2009.
Antimatter is composed of the antiparticles of the corresponding particles of “ordinary” matter, according to Wikipedia. As it is very hard to generate, antimatter is dubbed as the most expensive substance on Earth.
In 2009 when “Angels & Demons” hit the box office, biographer and science writer Graham Farmelo came up with a prize-winning book dubbed “The Strangest Man.”
It is about British quantum theoretician Paul Dirac, a Lucasian Professor at Cambridge University who formulated the Dirac equation and predicted the existence of antimatter.
Included in his successors at the Lucasian professorship is famous British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking.
In six years after Dirac’s prediction, antimatters were discovered in 1932. They were positrons, which have a positive charge as the counterpart of the electron.
As a result, Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel Prize for physics with Erwin Schrodinger, an Austrian physicist who is famous for a quantum mechanics equation named after him.
Despite his outstanding scientific achievements, Dirac showed many personality eccentricities, and the author suspects that he suffered from autism.
But eccentricities are widely shared by great scientists, as amply demonstrated by Isaac Newton, also Lucasian professor, and Albert Einstein.
Of note is that Einstein is possibly the only person for whom Dirac wept when the German scientist died in 1955, according to the author _ Dirac did not weep even when his mother passed away.
Farmelo shows why he picked up the title for the book, which won the Biography Award at the 2009 Cost Book Awards, at the ending part of the chapter eight.
Niels Bohr, the great Danish physician, told a colleague that, “of all people who had visited the institute, Dirac was ‘the strangest man.’”