Paul Dirac is …….The Strangest Man.

Being off for a couple of days has meant that I got to read and relax a bit.  In a bookshop I found the biography of Paul Dirac.  I had seen it before and thought it looked good but was put off by the fact that it was such a heavy tomb.  However, this time it had a sticker on it that said ‘Winner of the 2009 Costa Award‘ – SOLD.

To be honest I think I am more inclined to read a science book at the moment anyway, and I am glad I caved in to the sticker.

Paul Dirac was probably the genius of his time, he is certainly up there with Einstein and Newton.  The reason why you might not have heard of him was that the media was at the time uninterested in him.  He was strange, too strange.  He was simply a man who said very little at any time and who seemed to remain emotionless at nearly all times.  He shy-ed away from the limelight nearly always.

So far I am finding it difficult to put the book down, being both interesting and highly readable.  I have not found a biography so captivating since I read Genius by James Gleick – The biography of the bongo playing New York physicist Richard Feynman.

On this topic, I was teaching about some different scientists the other day and someone asked me who my favourite scientist was.  Without needing to think about it I replied: Feynman.  Then one of the students said, “Richard Feynman?” This shocked me a little as it is sad to say that most of them know only of Newton, Einstein, Darwin and Hawking.  It turns out that this student, in Year 10, has already read a couple of Feynman’s books.  Excellent!

many consider Richard Feynman one of the greatest teachers of physics

Dirac and Feynman 1962