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DYSON, Freeman.

Radiation Theories of Tomonaga, Schwinger, and Feynman.

[In] The Physical Review Volume 75, Number 3. [Together with] The S Matrix in Quantum Electrodynamics. [In] The Physical Review Volume 75, Number 11.

Published: Lancaster, PA and New York, NY: for The American Physical Society by the American Institute of Physics, February 1 and June 1, 1949

Stock code: 86336

Price: £2,000

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First editions, first impressions of the papers that demonstrated the equivalence between Richard Feynman’s diagram-based approach to quantum electrodynamics and Julius Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga’s operator method approach. Both theories were presented for the first time at the Pocono Conference in April 1948, with Feynman and Schwinger going head-to-head, each wary of the other and jealously guarding their intellectual territory. Freeman Dyson, “one of England’s two or three most brilliant mathematical prodigies” (Gleick, Genius, p. 235) was then a graduate student at Cornell, where Feynman was teaching, and though he did not attend the conference he eagerly absorbed the notes made by attendees. At the end of the summer he submitted a “manuscript representing a cathartic outpouring of work… Dyson had found the mathematical common ground he was sure must exist [between the two theories]… His chief insight was to focus on a so-called scattering matrix, or S matrix, a mustering of all the probabilities associated with the different routes from an initial state to a given end point. He now advertised a ‘unified development of the subject’ – more reliable than Feynman and more useable than Schwinger” (Gleick p. 267). But Dyson was concerned about publishing his own paper on two unpublished theories by more senior physicists – would he offend Feynman or Schwinger? Discussing the predicament with Hans Bethe, Dyson argued that “it was Schwinger’s and Feynman’s own fault that they had not published ‘any moderately intelligible account’: Schwinger, he suspected, was polishing obsessively, and Feynman simply couldn’t be bothered with paperwork. It was irresponsible. They were retarding the development of science. By publicising their work Dyson was performing a service to humanity, he argued… By January the war had been won. At the American Physical Society meeting Dyson found himself almost as much a hero as Schwinger had been the year before. Sitting in the audience with Feynman beside him, he listened as a speaker talked admiringly of ‘the beautiful theory of Feynman-Dyson’. Feynman said loudly, ‘Well, Doc, you’re in’.” (Gleick, pp. 267-270).

2 volumes, octavo. Original green wrappers printed in black. Ownership ink stamps of C. Moller to upper wrappers. Wrappers a little rubbed with the occasional small spot, spines toned with some closed tears, minor creases to the edges of contents in volume II, contents very faintly toned. An excellent set.

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