What a fantastic book I have just finished!
I always find biographies very interesting and stimulating, specially those regarding the lives of scientists. In this case, it was a biography not only of the life of the brilliant mind of Paul Dirac but also a complete story of the rise and golden age of quantum mechanics. Along with Heisenberg, Jordan, Pauli, Schrodinger and Born, Dirac was one of the group of theoricians who discovered quantum mechanics.
Dirac, the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel for his legacy to this field was an eccentric man, famous for not understanding the feelings of others and lack of touch, always direct and honest, a loner, fully dedicated and obsessed on his work. He was a quiet man, who as a child preferred not to speak due a highly disciplined father who would only speak to him in French. Among all these peculiar characteristics of Dirac and many others of a personality that fits with those of a person with Asperger's syndrome, there is one that I truly admire in a person and this was the loyalty that Paul Dirac always demonstrated towards his family and his friends.
It is worth mentioning that the only time they saw him crying was when he knew of Albert Einstein's death, not because he had lost a friend but because science had lost a invaluable scientist. I have to say that it was also a delight reading about his comments regarding politics and religion, his love for Disney classic movies and for Odyssey 2001... an extra star for that last one!
Regarding what made him such a great scientists I'll just paraphrase the following: "One reason why Dirac's approach was so puzzling was that he was an unusual hybrid-- part theoretical physicist, part pure mathematician, part engineer. He had the physicist's passion to know the underlying laws of nature, the mathematician's love of abstraction for its own sake and the engineer's insistence that theories give useful results". Like Einstein, he was in the search of simpler and aesthetic laws that could explain all the principles of the universe in a unified way.
Besides learning about his legacy in quantum mechanics and electrodynamics and the contributions of so many amazing scientists of this golden era, what really kept my motivation throughout this biography so vividly was reading about the personality of this genius. His life, from a precociously clever but emotionally withdrawn child, all his way up to becoming one of the greatest scientist ever in the field of physics.
In summary, he was like Bohr once said about him: "Dirac was the strangest man".
A superb work!