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PX408 Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

This web page will contain the handouts available in lectures, and some supplementary material. The syllabus is also available online.
Please inform me if you find any typos, etc. (email
Your feedback on the module and suggestions on how to improve it would also be greatly appreciated.

  • Introductory handout (pdf)
  • Handout 1: Revision and Notation (pdf)
  • Handout 2: Relativistic Wave Equations (pdf)
  • Handout 3: Solving the Dirac Equation (pdf)
  • Handout 4: Implications of Relativistic Quantum Mechanics (pdf)
  • Selected answers to questions in handouts 1-2 (pdf)
  • Selected answers to questions in handouts 3-4 (pdf)

A list of recommended texts can be found in the introductory handout. Another article that may be very useful can be found in Rev.Mod.Phys. 30, 24 (1958).

Dirac's original paper presenting his famous equation (Proc. R. Soc. A 117 610 (1928)) is available online courtesy of JSTOR. Part II (Proc. R. Soc. A 118 779 351 (1928)) is similarly available.

Anderson's papers on the discovery of the positron make interesting reading. The first (Science, 76, No.1967 (1932)) is available online courtesy of JSTOR. The second (Phys. Rev. 43, 491 (1933)) is available at the Physical Review online archive (PROLA).

Reading the Nobel lectures of Dirac and Anderson is also highly encouraged. Similarly a great discussion, by Goudsmit, of the discovery of electron spin (extracted from Foundations of Modern EPR, edited by G.R. Eaton, S.S. Eaton, and K.M. Salikhov (World Scientific, Singapore, 1998)) can be found here.

An interesting discussion on the differences between Dirac, Weyl and Majorana fermions can be found at arXiv:1006.1718. The level is slightly beyond that of this module, but most of the article should be accessible, particularly for those who will also study PX430 Gauge Theories for Particle Physics.

For those interested to learn more about the genius behind the Dirac equation, a detailed biography has recently been published: "The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius" by Graham Farmelo (published by Faber and Faber). See, for example, listing at Highly recommended -- this book won the 2010 Costa Biography Award. Available from all good bookstores.