Dirac Lectures

Earlier this year I posted a review of a book about the great theoretical physicist Paul Dirac. Presumably by a complete coincidence, on the very same day that I wrote that piece, somebody put the following video on Youtube. It’s very rare footage of the man himself giving some lectures in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1975 (when he was in his 70s). A great deal of conflicting stuff has been written about what Dirac was like as a lecturer – now you can see for yourself. The video isn’t very high quality – it breaks up entirely in a few places – but it’s nevertheless fascinating to hear Dirac talk physics!

My opinion? I’ve had worse!

p.s thanks to Ian Harrison (@itrharrison) for drawing this to my attention!

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10 Responses to “Dirac Lectures”

  1. I’m currently reading “Quantum Man” by Lawrence M. Krauss. Each chapter begins with a quote by or sometimes about Feynman. One of them is this one, from Eugene P. Wigner:

    “He’s another Dirac. Only this time human.”

    Note: Dirac was married to Wigner’s sister, and famously introduced her, even after their marriage, as “Wigner’s sister”.

  2. Navneeth Says:

    Thanks for posting this. Soon after I finished Dr. Farmelo’s excellent book (about a year ago) I went in search of videos of Dirac on the web, but couldn’t find any. The closest I was able to get was a documentary which included a short excerpt from a lecture, from his later US years, where I was barely able to hear him.

  3. Alan Heavens Says:

    Fascinating. Thanks for posting this. He appears much less strange here than suggested by Farmelo’s very enjoyable book ‘The Strangest Man’.

    • telescoper Says:

      Alan, that’s also what I said in my review of that book (linked from the post). I’ve spoken to quite a few people who met Dirac, and the majority say he wasn’t anywhere near as weird as the popular view suggests.

    • telescoper Says:

      Ps. Not much evidence of the “strong Bristolian accent” he is supposed to have had either..

    • telescoper Says:

      Pps. This video reminds me a lot of those Harry Enfield sketches with Mr Cholmonderly-Warner..

    • John Peacock Says:

      I didn’t think he sounded that strange in the book, even: he came over as normal in many ways, especially in regard to being competitive about his research. I think we all know scientists who aren’t all that different.

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