IN 1932, when I started my research career as an assistant to Nishina, Dirac published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, London. In this paper, he discussed the formulation of relativistic quantum mechanics, especially that of electrons interacting with the electromagnetic field. At that time a comprehensive theory of this interaction had been formally completed by Heisenberg and Pauli, but Dirac was not satisfied with this theory and tried to construct a new theory from a different point of view. Heisenberg and Pauli regarded the (electromagnetic) field itself as a dynamical system amenable to the Hamiltonian treatment; its interaction with particles could be described by an interaction energy, so that the usual method of Hamiltonian quantum mechanics could be applied. On the other hand, Dirac thought that the field and the particles should play essentially different roles. That is to say, according to him, “the role of the field is to provide a means for making observations of a system of particles” and therefore “we cannot suppose the field to be a dynamical system on the same footing as the particles and thus be something to be observed in the same way as the particles.”
Development of quantum electrodynamics
Sin‐itiro Tomonaga; Development of quantum electrodynamics. Physics Today 1 September 1966; 19 (9): 25–32. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3048465
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