Paul Dirac and the religion of mathematical beauty

   Speaker: Graham Farmelo

For the great theoretical physicist Paul Dirac FRS, the importance of mathematical beauty was 'like a religion'. Although his first papers on quantum mechanics showed an acute aesthetic awareness, he first set out his principle of mathematical beauty only in 1939, a decade after he did his best work. In this talk, Farmelo will discuss the origins of Dirac's aesthetic sensibility and take a look at the extraordinary personality of the physicist Niels Bohr once called 'the strangest man'.

Graham Farmelo is a Bye-Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. His biography of Paul Dirac, The Strangest Man, won the 2009 Costa Biography Prize and the 2010 Los Angeles Times Prize for Best Science Book.

Paul Dirac and the religion of mathematical beauty 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

Events coming up

  • The interaction of fire and mankind 14 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Professor Claire Belcher and Dr Chris Roos
  • The interaction of fire and mankind - further discussion 16 September 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Dr Claire Belcher and Professor Chris Roos
  • Open House Weekend 2015 19 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London The Royal Society's building will be open to the public on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2015.

For more events please see the events diary.