Monday, December 9, 1996
"Physical Laws should have mathematical beauty." This statement was Dirac's response to the question of his philosophy of physics, posed to him in Moscow in 1955. He wrote it on a blackboard that is still preserved today.
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984), known as P. A. M. Dirac, was the fifteenth Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 with Erwin Schrodinger. He is considered to be the founder of quantum mechanics, providing the transition from quantum theory. The Cambridge Philosophical Society awarded him the Hopkins Medal in 1930. He was awarded the Royal Medal by the Royal Society of London in 1939 and the James Scott Prize from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1952 the Max Plank Medal came from the Association of German Physical Societies, as well as the Copley Medal from the Royal Society. The Akademie der Wissenschaften in the German Democratic Republic presented him with the Helmholtz Medal in 1964. In 1969 he received the Oppenheimer Prize from the University of Miami. Lastly in 1973, he received the Order of Merit.
Dirac was well known for his almost anti--social behavior, but he was a member of many scientific organizations throughout the world. Naturally, he was a member of the Royal Society, but he was also a member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforsher and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He was a foreign member of Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques and the Academie des Sciences, the Accademia delle Scienze Torino and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the National Academy of Science. He was an honorary member and fellow of the Indian Academy of Science, the Chinese Physical Society, the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the National Institute of Sciences in India, the American Physical Society, the Tata Institute for Fundamental...