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Paul Dirac

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Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, (August 8, 1902 - October 20, 1984) was a physicist and a founder of the field of quantum physics.

He was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England.

In 1926 he developed a version of quantum mechanics, which included “Matrix Mechanics” and “Wave Mechanics” as special cases.

In 1928, building on Pauli's work on nonrelativistic spin systems, he derived the Dirac equation, a relativistic equation describing the electron. This allowed Dirac to predict the existence of the positron, the electron's anti-particle; the positron was subsequently observed by Anderson in 1932. Dirac explained the origin of quantum spin as a relativistic phenomenon.

His Principles of Quantum Mechanics, published in 1930, pioneered the use of linear operators as a generalization of the theories of Heisenberg and Schrödinger. It also introduced the bra-ket notation, in which |ψ> denotes a state vector in the Hilbert space of a system and <ψ| its dual vector. Dirac also introduced Dirac's delta function.

He shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1933 with Erwin Schrödinger "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory".

Dirac was Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge from 1932 to 1969 and an undergraduate at Bristol University. The Dirac Prize is awarded in his honour.

He died in Tallahassee, Florida.

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