Paul Dirac: The Man and His Work

Abraham Pais, Maurice Jacob, David I. Olive + Michael F. Atiyah

Cambridge University Press 1998
A book review by Danny Yee © 1999
In 1995, eleven years after his death, a plaque to Paul Dirac was dedicated in Westminster Abbey. This collection contains the brief speech delivered by Stephen Hawking on that occasion and four papers presented to the Royal Society.

Abraham Pais offers a sketch of the life and work of Dirac, who was a personal friend. Maurice Jacob writes about antimatter, describing Dirac's role in its prediction and its place in modern theory, its role in cosmology, and its uses in experimental technology (notably colliders) and medical applications. And David Olive outlines some recent theorising about magnetic monopoles.

These three papers are technical, but their gist should be comprehensible to anyone with a basic physics background. This is not true, however, of Michael Atiyah's paper on the role of the Dirac operator in Riemannian geometry, which is really only for the mathematicians. The collection as a whole is a little eclectic, but should have something for anyone with an interest in modern physics.

January 1999

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%T Paul Dirac
%S The Man and His Work
%A Pais, Abraham
%A Jacob, Maurice
%A Olive, David I.
%A Atiyah, Michael F.
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1998
%O hardcover, references
%G ISBN 0521583829
%P xv,124pp