Provost’s Lecture Series Presents Mats Larsson, November 22, 2019

November 22, 5:45 pm, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Della Pietra Family Auditorium 
Preceded by reception at 5 pm in the Simons Center Lobby

mats larsson

Title: Dirac and the Quantum Mechanics Nobel Prizes in 1933
Mats Larsson is Professor of Physics at Stockholm University and director of the AlbaNova University Center in Stockholm, which is a joint scientific center between the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Stockholm University. He serves on the Nobel Committee for physics during 2016-2021. His research interests are laboratory astrophysics and its importance to astrochemistry, free electron laser research targeting small molecules, and, more recently, molecular chirality and chiral interaction. He chairs a Nobel Symposium on Chiral Matter during 2020, with Dmitri Kharzeev as one of the co-chairs.

Co-Sponsors:  Department of Physics and Astronomy, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics

Abstract: There has never been a longer peace-time gap in the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics than between 1930 and 1933. The gap did not depend on a lack of candidates, but the significant problems the Nobel Committee had to reconcile the new quantum mechanics with the requirement of the will of Alfred Nobel, who states that the prize should be awarded for a “discovery” or “invention.” Whereas the committee agreed that Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger were the obvious candidates, the situation for Paul Dirac was totally different. The 1932 year’s prize had been postponed, and 1933 turned out to be a dramatic year. The discovery of the positive electron (positron), announced in March 1933, was a game changer, and finally raised Dirac to where he belonged: an equal to Heisenberg and Schrödinger. Based on the original documents from the Nobel archive, the lecture will describe Dirac’s dramatic road to a Nobel Prize in Physics.

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