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Paul Dirac
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Scientist
    (August 8, 1902-October 20, 1984)
    Born in Bristol, England, United Kingdom
    Theoretical physicist
    Formulated the Dirac Equation describing the behavior of fermions (a class of particles that includes electrons, protons and neutrons)
    Wrote 'Principles of Quantum Mechanics' (1930)
    Co-recipient of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics for contributions to atomic theory
    He was described by one biographer as 'an Edwardian geek.'
    He was so reticient that his colleagues at Cambridge used his name for a new unit of measurement, defining the dirac as one word per hour.
    He only accepted his Nobel Prize after it was pointed out that he would attract even more attention if he became the first person to reject one.
    He criticized J. Robert Oppenheimer's interest in poetry, saying 'The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible.'
    His favorite means of relaxation was climbing trees in his suit.
    After a lecture, he asked if there were any questions. A student said, 'I don't understand the equation on the board,' drawing the response, 'That is not a question. It is a comment.'
    He became obsessed with Cher, buying his first TV set just to watch her weekly show.
    During an argument, his wife asked, 'What would you do if I left you?' After a few minutes of thought, he replied, 'I'd say, 'Goodbye, dear.''
    He wrote about his authoritarian father, 'I never knew love or affection as a child.'
    He predicted the existence of anti-matter.
    Fellow quantum physicist Freeman Dyson wrote, 'He seemed to be able to conjure laws of nature from pure thought.'
    He modestly referred to Fermi-Dirac statistics as just Fermi statistics.
    The vice-president of the Royal Society said, 'Without understanding the Dirac statistics, you wouldn't have mobile phones, computers or anything else that runs on electronics.'
    Stephen Hawking called him 'the greatest theoretical physicist since Newton.'
    After a year of marriage, he wrote his wife Manci a letter declaring 'You have made me human. I shall be able to live happily with you even if I have no more success in my work.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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