Item #2657 The Quantum Theory of the Electron. PAUL DIRAC.
The Quantum Theory of the Electron
The Quantum Theory of the Electron
The Quantum Theory of the Electron

The Quantum Theory of the Electron

“Although the British physicist P.A.M. Dirac wrote many important papers, starting with his first paper on quantum mechanics in 1926, it is his paper on the electron, published in 1928, that comes to the minds of nearly all physicists when Dirac’s name is mentioned. This paper, ‘The Quantum Theory of the Electron, I’ is one of the great papers of twentieth-century physics.” –John S. Rigden, Hydrogen: The Essential Element


FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS of one of the major milestones of modern science: the introduction of Dirac’s wave equation uniting quantum mechanics and special relativity.

“Dirac's outstandingly significant achievement was his relativistic wave equation for the electron. Earlier attempts to formulate a relativistic Schrödinger wave equation had failed, but in early 1928, Dirac found a new wave equation of the same formal structure as Schrödinger's (HΨ = EΨ), but with a Hamilton function (H) that made the equation fit the requirements of relativity. The new equation was of the first order in both the time and space derivatives and included a new type of matrix with four rows and columns (Dirac matrices). The Dirac equation led to many empirically correct predictions and was immediately hailed as a great theoretical progress. The Dirac matrices are related to the Pauli spin matrices and Dirac proved that the correct value of the electron's spin appeared as a consequence of his theory. He also proved that it was possible to give an exact explanation of the hydrogen spectrum, including the so-called fine structure. ‘The quantum theory of the electron’ marked a turning-point in modern physics and the Dirac equation was received enthusiastically and created a minor industry in mathematical physics” (Dictionary of National Biography).



Particle Physics, One Hundred Years of Discoveries: "Discovery of the relativistic wave equation for the electron". Note: There is a “part II”, conceived and published later that is a separate paper expanding on some of the implications of the wave equations. Dirac shared the 1933 Noble Prize in Physics with Schrödinger for "for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory".

IN: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A. Vol. CXVII, pp. 610-624. London: The Royal Society, 1928. Octavo, original printed wrappers; custom box. The complete issue. Light pencil asterisk denoting Dirac paper on front wrapper. A little toning to wrapper edges and spine; usual creasing to spine. Rare in original wrappers and without any institutional stamps.

Price: $5,500 .

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