Books That Inspire 2002


 
The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
P.A.M. Dirac


Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was one of the giants of twentieth-century science. He, along with Erwin Schroedinger and Werner Heisenberg and many others, founded quantum mechanics in the late 1920s, and his book, the first edition of which appeared in 1930, was the first systematic treatment of the new foundation of physics. Generations of physicists learned from this book. I read it while still an undergraduate and it confirmed my decision to become a theoretical physicist. Although it remains an inspiration, it is not altogether transparent. Another of my heroes, Julian Schwinger, who read Dirac's book at age 13, admired it highly, but at the time criticized it for being too highly polished - Dirac's papers were more accessible.
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Kimball Milton
Professor
Physics and Astronomy