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Climbing the MountainThe Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger$
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Jagdish Mehra and Kimball Milton

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198527459

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198527459.001.0001

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The development of quantum electrodynamics until 1947: the historical background of Julian Schwinger’s work on QED

The development of quantum electrodynamics until 1947: the historical background of Julian Schwinger’s work on QED

Chapter:
(p.177) 6 The development of quantum electrodynamics until 1947: the historical background of Julian Schwinger’s work on QED
Source:
Climbing the Mountain
Author(s):

JAGDISH MEHRA

KIMBALL A. MILTON

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198527459.003.0006

Prior to 1947, Julian Schwinger had not worked in quantum electrodynamics (QED), apart from his first unpublished paper ‘On the interaction of several electrons’. Before joining the City College of New York, he had already studied Paul Dirac's The principles of quantum mechanics, first published in 1930. As a freshman at CCNY, Schwinger studied the recently published papers on quantum field theory of Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Enrico Fermi, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and others; he absorbed all that was being done in this field. However, he maintained his interest in quantum field theory, and had more exposure to the subject when he went to the University of California at Berkeley to work with Oppenheimer for two years. This chapter deals with Schwinger's work on QED, Dirac's theory of radiation and relativistic theory, relativistic quantum mechanics, the infinities in QED, earlier attempts to overcome the infinities in QED, and earlier experimental evidence for the deviations from Dirac's theory of the electron.

Keywords:   quantum electrodynamics, Paul Dirac, theory of radiation, relativistic theory, relativistic quantum mechanics, infinities, electron

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