Berlin: Julius Springer, 1929-30. First edition of these papers in which Heisenberg and Pauli took a major step toward the unification of quantum mechanics and the special theory of relativity. The later development of quantum electrodynamics by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga provided the foundation stone for today’s ‘standard model’ of particle physics.
A fine set, in the original wrappers, of the two papers in which Heisenberg and Pauli gave “for the first time the foundations for quantum electrodynamics in the way we know it today.” (Abraham Pais).
“Three years before the discovery of the positron Heisenberg and Pauli – in two papers ‘Zur Quantenmechanik der Wellenfelder’ and ‘Zur Quantenmechanik der Wellenfelder II’ of 29 March and 7 September 1929, respectively – took a decisive step forward to develop a consistent theory of quantum electrodynamics.” (Mehra & Milton).
“Heisenberg’s foremost scientific concern after 1927 involved the search for a consistent extension of the quantum formalism that would yield a satisfactory unification of quantum mechanics and relativity theory. This required the formulation of a covariant theory of interacting particles and fields that accounted for elementary processes at high energies and small distances. In 1929, drawing upon the work of Dirac, Jordan, Oskar Klein, and others, Heisenberg and Pauli succeeded in formulating a general gauge-invariant relativistic quantum field theory by treating particles and fields as separate entities interacting through the intermediaries of field quanta.
“The formalism led to the creation of a relativistic quantum electrodynamics, equivalent to that developed by Dirac, which, despite its puzzling negative energy states, seemed satisfactory at low energies and small orders of interaction. But at high energies, where particles approach closer than their radii, the interaction energy diverged to infinity. Even at rest, a lone electron interacting with its own field seemed to possess an infinite self-energy, much as it did in classical electrodynamics. Attention was directed to the resolution of such difficulties for more than two decades.” (DSB under Heisenberg).
“Heisenberg and Pauli were well aware of the shortcomings of their theory: the divergence difficulties and the problem of negative energies for the electron. However, the importance of the Heisenberg-Pauli theory cannot be exaggerated; it opened the road to a general theory of quantized fields and thereby prepared the tools, albeit not perfect ones, for the Pauli-Fermi theory of beta-decay and for the meson theories.” (Mehra & Milton).
Mehra & Milton, Climbing the Mountain: The Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger, pp. 186-87; Pais, On the Dirac theory of the electron. An annotation, in Werner Heienberg: Collected Works, Vol. AII, pp.95-105.
8vo: 229 x 156 mm. In: Zeitschift für Physik, vol. 56, no. 1-2, pp. 1-61; vol. 59, no. 3-4, pp. 168-90. The two complete issues offered here in the original printed wrappers, some light wear to the spine strip of the first issue and two small pieces missing from the lower left corner (front and rear), otherwise very fine with no stamps or other markings. Rare in such fine condition.