Wigner's Sisters

Aabstract: Paul A. M. Dirac was a great physicist. Wigner used to call him "my famous brother-in-law." How did they become brothers-in-law? Did these two great physicists have the same view toward physics?

Note added in 2015

Dirac and Feynman in Poland

Dirac and Feynman in 1962.
Can you translate this photo into physics?

I was there in 2013.

The Physics Today carried this photo Dirac and Feynman on the cover page of its August (1963) issue. The photo was taken by Marek Holzman during a relativity conference organized by Leopold Infeld in July of 1962. The conference took place at the Jablonna Palace about 20 km north of Warsaw.

I met Paul A. M. Dirac in 1962.

  • When Paul A. M. Dirac visited the University of Maryland in October of 1962, I was a first-year assistant professor, and I had to provide convenience for him. At that time, I was confused. The Physical Review Letters was constantly sending out new words, such as Regge poles, N/D method, bootstrap dynamics, strip approximation, etc. However, to me, they did not sound like the physics I really wanted to do.

    I was fortunate enough to spend 30 minutes alone with Dirac. I asked him what I should do in physics. He said American physicists should spend more time to understand Lorentz covariance. This was a totally unexpected answer to me.

  • It took me some time to understand what Dirac was really telling me. First of all, by American physicists, did he meet anyone in particular? It was not until after reading some of Feynman's papers to realize he was talking about Feynman. Dirac was right, Feynman or his students could have studied Lorentz transformations more carefully. For instance, the paper with his students

    contains many new physical ideas, but it is a total mess from the mathematical point of view. They could have done much better job if they had studied Wigner's papers on the Lorentz group.

    Only after I read Feynman's papers, I realized Dirac was talking about Feynman when he said "American physicists." Dirac and Feynman met in July of 1962 (three months before I met Dirac). They met in Poland.

  • How about Dirac's papers? The best way to understand what Dirac told me in 1962 was to read Dirac's own papers. Dirac's papers all sound like poems, but they do not contain figures. The best way to understand his papers is to translate all those poems into cartoons. Here are thus my cartoons to tell you what Dirac told me and what I did.

  • First of all, let us translate what Dirac told me into a cartoon.

  • It is quite safe assume that Dirac made many attempts to place something into this empty space. Indeed, he did in the following papers.

    1. P. A. M. Dirac, Proc. Roy. Soc. (London) A114, 243 (1927).
    2. P. A. M. Dirac, Proc. Roy. Soc. (London) A183 , 284 (1945).
    3. P. A. M. Dirac, Rev. Mod. Phys. [21], 392 (1949).

  • His papers are like poems. It is possible to translate those poems into the following cartoons.

In the real world,
this ellipse appears as
  • You do not have to be a genius to combine the above two figures. This figure means many different things in physics. Among them are

    1. Lornerz-covariant picture of bound states.

    2. Quarks and partons as one Lorentz-covariant entity.

    3. Coupled Oscillators as a model for the Lorentz-covariant world.

    4. Squeezed states of light.

    5. Squeeze transformations in physics. Symplectic transformations.

    6. Feynman's rest of the universe.

    7. Role of entropy in the Lorentz-covariant world.

    8. Entangled space and time variables.

  • In producing the above results, I needed inputs from various sources. Click here for the papers I had to study. In building a house, there are two distinct steps. One is to produce bricks, cements, and wooden materials. The other step is to design and construct the house you wish to build.

    It was a rewarding experience for me to use the excellent raw materials provided by the three physicists we all respect.

Who is this young man?
copyright@2015 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified.
The photo of Dirac and Feynman is from the Caltech Photo Archive. This photo was taken by Marek Holzman during the International Conference on Relativity Theory of Gravitation in Warsaw (Poland) on July 25-31 1962, organized by Leopold Infeld. The image of Jesus and Nicodemus is from "The Picture Bible" (David C. Cook Publishing Co., Elgin, Illinois, U.S.A., 1978).