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Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac
Equation

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac
Equation

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Equation

Tom Pashby

University of Pittsburgh

thp11@pitt.edu

September 9, 2010

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

mechanics he used his favourite branch of mathematics -

projective geometry (Farmelo, 2005)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

mechanics he used his favourite branch of mathematics -

projective geometry (Farmelo, 2005)

final steps to the solution [the Dirac equation], one is

forced to guess how Diracs ideas progressed (Mehra

and Rechenberg, 2000)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

mechanics he used his favourite branch of mathematics -

projective geometry (Farmelo, 2005)

final steps to the solution [the Dirac equation], one is

forced to guess how Diracs ideas progressed (Mehra

and Rechenberg, 2000)

(Dirac, 1977)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

Outline

Connection is weak

Inconsistent with Diracs comments

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

Outline

Connection is weak

Inconsistent with Diracs comments

Projective Geometry and Minkowski space

Encouraged by Diracs comments

Useful for visualisation

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

The Project

Outline

Connection is weak

Inconsistent with Diracs comments

Projective Geometry and Minkowski space

Encouraged by Diracs comments

Useful for visualisation

The Dirac Equation

A role for projective geometry?

Archival evidence

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Diracs Education

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Diracs Education

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Diracs Education

1921-23 Mathematics (Bristol University)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Diracs Education

1921-23 Mathematics (Bristol University)

1923-26 Physics PhD (St. Johns, Cambridge University)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Diracs Education

1921-23 Mathematics (Bristol University)

1923-26 Physics PhD (St. Johns, Cambridge University)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Taught by Peter Fraser, a very good mathematics teacher.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Taught by Peter Fraser, a very good mathematics teacher.

Fraser former student of H. F. Baker.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Taught by Peter Fraser, a very good mathematics teacher.

Fraser former student of H. F. Baker.

Dirac attended geometry tea parties of Baker in Cambridge.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Taught by Peter Fraser, a very good mathematics teacher.

Fraser former student of H. F. Baker.

Dirac attended geometry tea parties of Baker in Cambridge.

student of Arthur Cayley.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Taught by Peter Fraser, a very good mathematics teacher.

Fraser former student of H. F. Baker.

Dirac attended geometry tea parties of Baker in Cambridge.

student of Arthur Cayley.

Dirac was keen to speak about his fondness for projective geometry.

Is there a connection to his work in quantum mechanics?

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

1925 The Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

1925 The Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics

1926a Quantum Mechanics and a Preliminary Investigation of

the Hydrogen Atom

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

1925 The Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics

1926a Quantum Mechanics and a Preliminary Investigation of

the Hydrogen Atom

1926b On Quantum Algebra

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

1925 The Fundamental Equations of Quantum Mechanics

1926a Quantum Mechanics and a Preliminary Investigation of

the Hydrogen Atom

1926b On Quantum Algebra

1927 The Physical Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Definition of q-numbers

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

(1925-6):

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

(1925-6):

1 Dirac took the axioms of his quantum algebra from Bakers

Principles of Geometry. (Mehra and Rechenberg 1982 )

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

(1925-6):

1 Dirac took the axioms of his quantum algebra from Bakers

Principles of Geometry. (Mehra and Rechenberg 1982 )

2 Dirac used his knowledge of geometry to gain insight into the

nature of q-numbers. (Mehra and Rechenberg, Rechenberg

1987)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

(1925-6):

1 Dirac took the axioms of his quantum algebra from Bakers

Principles of Geometry. (Mehra and Rechenberg 1982 )

2 Dirac used his knowledge of geometry to gain insight into the

nature of q-numbers. (Mehra and Rechenberg, Rechenberg

1987)

3 Dirac used projective geometry as a means to visualize

q-numbers. (Mehra and Rechenberg, Kragh 1981)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

(1925-6):

1 Dirac took the axioms of his quantum algebra from Bakers

Principles of Geometry. (Mehra and Rechenberg 1982 )

2 Dirac used his knowledge of geometry to gain insight into the

nature of q-numbers. (Mehra and Rechenberg, Rechenberg

1987)

3 Dirac used projective geometry as a means to visualize

q-numbers. (Mehra and Rechenberg, Kragh 1981)

4 Diracs quantum algebra was essentially geometrical

(Rechenberg 1987)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

1 is supported by similarity to Bakers symbolic algebra.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

1 is supported by similarity to Bakers symbolic algebra.

2 is defensible (analogy between non-commutative geometries

and q-numbers).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

1 is supported by similarity to Bakers symbolic algebra.

2 is defensible (analogy between non-commutative geometries

and q-numbers).

3 disregards i) Diracs later comments ii) difficulties of

visualization.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

1 is supported by similarity to Bakers symbolic algebra.

2 is defensible (analogy between non-commutative geometries

and q-numbers).

3 disregards i) Diracs later comments ii) difficulties of

visualization.

4 overemphasizes geometrical analogy - essentially algebraic.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

1 is supported by similarity to Bakers symbolic algebra.

2 is defensible (analogy between non-commutative geometries

and q-numbers).

3 disregards i) Diracs later comments ii) difficulties of

visualization.

4 overemphasizes geometrical analogy - essentially algebraic.

Diracs primary role for projective geometry was as a means of

visualization for Minkowski space and Lorentz transformations

NOT q-numbers.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Geometrical Thinker

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Geometrical Thinker

All my work since then [Bristol] has been very much of

a geometrical nature, rather than of an algebraic nature

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Geometrical Thinker

All my work since then [Bristol] has been very much of

a geometrical nature, rather than of an algebraic nature

Puzzled, Kuhn asks later (1963) if Dirac regards his peculiar

q-number manipulations ... as being algebraic rather than

geometric.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Geometrical Thinker

All my work since then [Bristol] has been very much of

a geometrical nature, rather than of an algebraic nature

Puzzled, Kuhn asks later (1963) if Dirac regards his peculiar

q-number manipulations ... as being algebraic rather than

geometric.

Yes, but I only used them in an elementary way.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Geometrical Thinker

All my work since then [Bristol] has been very much of

a geometrical nature, rather than of an algebraic nature

Puzzled, Kuhn asks later (1963) if Dirac regards his peculiar

q-number manipulations ... as being algebraic rather than

geometric.

Yes, but I only used them in an elementary way.

So what is the connection to projective geometry?

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Four dimensions were very popular then for the

geometrists to work with. It was all done with the notions

of projective geometry rather than metrical geometry. So

I became very familiar with that kind of mathematics in

that way. Ive found it useful since then in understanding

the relations which you can have in Minkowskis space.

You can picture all the directions in Minkowski space as

the points in a three-dimensional vector space. I always

used these geometri- cal ideas for getting clear notions

about relationships in relativity although I didnt refer to

them in my published works. (ibid.)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Four dimensions were very popular then for the

geometrists to work with. It was all done with the notions

of projective geometry rather than metrical geometry. So

I became very familiar with that kind of mathematics in

that way. Ive found it useful since then in understanding

the relations which you can have in Minkowskis space.

You can picture all the directions in Minkowski space as

the points in a three-dimensional vector space. I always

used these geometri- cal ideas for getting clear notions

about relationships in relativity although I didnt refer to

them in my published works. (ibid.)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

AHQP Interview

Four dimensions were very popular then for the

geometrists to work with. It was all done with the notions

of projective geometry rather than metrical geometry. So

I became very familiar with that kind of mathematics in

that way. Ive found it useful since then in understanding

the relations which you can have in Minkowskis space.

You can picture all the directions in Minkowski space as

the points in a three-dimensional vector space. I always

used these geometri- cal ideas for getting clear notions

about relationships in relativity although I didnt refer to

them in my published works. (ibid.)

No. It doesnt connect at all with non-commutative

Tom Pashby algebra. Pitt HPS

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

If projective geometry is relevant anywhere, relevant to discovery

of the relativistic electron equation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

If projective geometry is relevant anywhere, relevant to discovery

of the relativistic electron equation.

1 Dirac was trying to find a Lorentz invariant wave equation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

If projective geometry is relevant anywhere, relevant to discovery

of the relativistic electron equation.

1 Dirac was trying to find a Lorentz invariant wave equation.

2 Dirac understood Minkowski space and Lorentz

transformations in terms of projective geometry.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

If projective geometry is relevant anywhere, relevant to discovery

of the relativistic electron equation.

1 Dirac was trying to find a Lorentz invariant wave equation.

2 Dirac understood Minkowski space and Lorentz

transformations in terms of projective geometry.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

A New Role

(Trieste & Boston 1972).

If projective geometry is relevant anywhere, relevant to discovery

of the relativistic electron equation.

1 Dirac was trying to find a Lorentz invariant wave equation.

2 Dirac understood Minkowski space and Lorentz

transformations in terms of projective geometry.

Did Dirac use projective geometry in his search for the Dirac

equation?

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

The study of geometrical properties invariant under projection.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

The study of geometrical properties invariant under projection.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

The study of geometrical properties invariant under projection.

Parallel lines meet at a point at infinity.

Tom Pashby Pitt HPS

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

An Illustration

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Homogeneous Co-ordinates

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Homogeneous Co-ordinates

A point in real projective space RP n has n + 1 homogeneous

co-ordinates.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Homogeneous Co-ordinates

A point in real projective space RP n has n + 1 homogeneous

co-ordinates.

Point in real projective plane has 3 co-ords (x1 , x2 , x3 ).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Homogeneous Co-ordinates

A point in real projective space RP n has n + 1 homogeneous

co-ordinates.

Point in real projective plane has 3 co-ords (x1 , x2 , x3 ).

Consider a point (y1 , y2 ) with y1 = xx31 , y2 = xx23 so that

(x1 , x2 , x3 ) (cx1 , cx2 , cx3 ).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Homogeneous Co-ordinates

A point in real projective space RP n has n + 1 homogeneous

co-ordinates.

Point in real projective plane has 3 co-ords (x1 , x2 , x3 ).

Consider a point (y1 , y2 ) with y1 = xx31 , y2 = xx23 so that

(x1 , x2 , x3 ) (cx1 , cx2 , cx3 ).

The points (x1 , x2 , 0) form the line at infinity; approached

from either direction.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Conic Sections

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Conics

mapped to conic.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Conics

mapped to conic.

Classified by how they meet the line at infinity e.g. hyperbola

meets at asymptotes.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Conics

mapped to conic.

Classified by how they meet the line at infinity e.g. hyperbola

meets at asymptotes.

Related by projections that swap points, so not distinguished

projectively.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Projective Geometry

Conics

mapped to conic.

Classified by how they meet the line at infinity e.g. hyperbola

meets at asymptotes.

Related by projections that swap points, so not distinguished

projectively.

Quadrics generalise the conic to higher dimensional spaces.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Minkowskis Address

a hyperboloid t 2 x 2 y 2 z 2 = 1.

x

Lorentz transformation leaves hyperboloid invariant.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

infinity have 4 co-ords.).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

infinity have 4 co-ords.).

Each direction with vector x corresponds to a point x in the

hyperplane at infinity.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

infinity have 4 co-ords.).

Each direction with vector x corresponds to a point x in the

hyperplane at infinity.

Directions in Minkowski space: time-like, space-like or

light-like.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

infinity have 4 co-ords.).

Each direction with vector x corresponds to a point x in the

hyperplane at infinity.

Directions in Minkowski space: time-like, space-like or

light-like.

Correspond to: points inside, outside, or on the absolute

quadric.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

infinity have 4 co-ords.).

Each direction with vector x corresponds to a point x in the

hyperplane at infinity.

Directions in Minkowski space: time-like, space-like or

light-like.

Correspond to: points inside, outside, or on the absolute

quadric.

Lorentz transformations leave the absolute quadric invariant.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

introduce metrical notions into PG.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

introduce metrical notions into PG.

Kleins (1871) relative consistency proofs demonstrated that

Euclidean, hyperbolic and parabolic geometries were subgeometries

of a projective geometry, each with a different choice of the

absolute quadric.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

introduce metrical notions into PG.

Kleins (1871) relative consistency proofs demonstrated that

Euclidean, hyperbolic and parabolic geometries were subgeometries

of a projective geometry, each with a different choice of the

absolute quadric.

In the case of Minkowski space, defined by the Minkowski metric:

x x = (x 0 )2 + (x 1 )2 + (x 2 )2 + (x 3 )2 = 0

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Minkowski Space

Dirac Speaks

we have a three-dimensional space. Talking of a four

dimensional space is something that is hard to imagine,

but we cant really imagine it. We talk about it as

though we could, but when we are concerned just with

directions, the things in the space of physics, we can

represent them all in terms of a three-dimensional space

according to the methods of projective geometry. We

have a three-dimensional projective space in which there

is an absolute quadric. (Dirac, 1972)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Task

2

e

2 P e 2 2

ih ct + c A0 + r ih xr + c Ar + m c = 0.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Task

2

e

2 P e 2 2

ih ct + c A0 + r ih xr + c Ar + m c = 0.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Task

2

e

2 P e 2 2

ih ct + c A0 + r ih xr + c Ar + m c = 0.

1 Wave equation invariant under Lorentz transformation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Task

2

e

2 P e 2 2

ih ct + c A0 + r ih xr + c Ar + m c = 0.

1 Wave equation invariant under Lorentz transformation.

2 First order in time, so first order in the momenta.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Task

2

e

2 P e 2 2

ih ct + c A0 + r ih xr + c Ar + m c = 0.

1 Wave equation invariant under Lorentz transformation.

2 First order in time, so first order in the momenta.

3 Agrees with Klein-Gordon equation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Story

mathematical result (Dirac, 1972)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Story

mathematical result (Dirac, 1972)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Story

mathematical result (Dirac, 1972)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Story

mathematical result (Dirac, 1972)

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

The Solution

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

The Solution

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Method

John Slater:

... we can hardly conceive of anyone else having thought

of [the Dirac equation]. It shows the peculiar power of

the sort of intuitive genius which he has possessed more

than perhaps any of the other scientists of the period.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Method

John Slater:

... we can hardly conceive of anyone else having thought

of [the Dirac equation]. It shows the peculiar power of

the sort of intuitive genius which he has possessed more

than perhaps any of the other scientists of the period.

out of the blue?

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

What We Know

Diracs Method

John Slater:

... we can hardly conceive of anyone else having thought

of [the Dirac equation]. It shows the peculiar power of

the sort of intuitive genius which he has possessed more

than perhaps any of the other scientists of the period.

out of the blue?

In particular, did he use projective geometry?

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

seeks.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

seeks.

No explicit (anti)-commutation relations.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

seeks.

No explicit (anti)-commutation relations.

Nature of the s unclear, but not c-numbers.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Dirac knows the commutation properties of his s.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Dirac knows the commutation properties of his s.

Explicit 4 4 matrix representation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Dirac knows the commutation properties of his s.

Explicit 4 4 matrix representation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Dirac knows the commutation properties of his s.

Explicit 4 4 matrix representation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Best guess:

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Best guess:

Linear equation of a line between y and z, defines a linear

complex.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Best guess:

Linear equation of a line between y and z, defines a linear

complex.

Expressed in terms of s.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Best guess:

Linear equation of a line between y and z, defines a linear

complex.

Expressed in terms of s.

Sets up system of 4 equations defining a line.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Best guess:

Linear equation of a line between y and z, defines a linear

complex.

Expressed in terms of s.

Sets up system of 4 equations defining a line.

In Klein (1870) co-ordinates, this has a general quadratic

form.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

No matrix representation of s until p. 7.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

No matrix representation of s until p. 7.

Pauli matrices appear after Dirac matrices.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

No matrix representation of s until p. 7.

Pauli matrices appear after Dirac matrices.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

No matrix representation of s until p. 7.

Pauli matrices appear after Dirac matrices.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Realizes Pauli matrices will linearize the massless wave

equation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Realizes Pauli matrices will linearize the massless wave

equation.

1 1 2 i2

= + +

t x 2 y 1 z i

2 1

1 0 0 1 0 i 2

= + +

0 1 x 1 0 y i 0 z 1

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Realizes Pauli matrices will linearize the massless wave

equation.

1 1 2 i2

= + +

t x 2 y 1 z i

2 1

1 0 0 1 0 i 2

= + +

0 1 x 1 0 y i 0 z 1

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Archival Evidence

Comments

Realizes Pauli matrices will linearize the massless wave

equation.

1 1 2 i2

= + +

t x 2 y 1 z i

2 1

1 0 0 1 0 i 2

= + +

0 1 x 1 0 y i 0 z 1

Finds suitable 4 4 matrices - leads to s on p. 7.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Dirac did not use projective geometry in his early work on QM.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Dirac did not use projective geometry in his early work on QM.

Projective geometry was primarily a means for visualisation of

Minkowski space.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Dirac did not use projective geometry in his early work on QM.

Projective geometry was primarily a means for visualisation of

Minkowski space.

Definite mathematical correspondence and clear role.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Dirac did not use projective geometry in his early work on QM.

Projective geometry was primarily a means for visualisation of

Minkowski space.

Definite mathematical correspondence and clear role.

Dirac used projective geometry in his search for the Dirac

equation.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

including order of pages.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

including order of pages.

The playing around with mathematics involved projective

geometry, but no need for major revision.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

including order of pages.

The playing around with mathematics involved projective

geometry, but no need for major revision.

Dirac was right: he did not consider the Pauli equation and

spin, although he did try two component wave functions.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

including order of pages.

The playing around with mathematics involved projective

geometry, but no need for major revision.

Dirac was right: he did not consider the Pauli equation and

spin, although he did try two component wave functions.

The realization that s were analogous to Pauli matrices led

straight to the solution - no delay.

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

Introduction Quantum Algebra Diracs Testimony Minkowski Space Dirac Equation Conclusion

Conclusion

including order of pages.

The playing around with mathematics involved projective

geometry, but no need for major revision.

Dirac was right: he did not consider the Pauli equation and

spin, although he did try two component wave functions.

The realization that s were analogous to Pauli matrices led

straight to the solution - no delay.

Dirac did consider 3 3 matrices (contra Mehra and

Rechenberg, 2000).

Projective Geometry and the Origins of the Dirac Equation

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