Paul Weiss and the genesis of canonical quantization
1 Unit for HPS, University of
2 Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 14195 Berlin, Germany
a e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received in final form: 14 August 2015
Published online: 6 October 2015
This paper describes the life and work of a figure who, we argue, was of primary importance during the early years of field quantisation and (albeit more indirectly) quantum gravity. A student of Dirac and Born, he was interned in Canada during the second world war as an enemy alien and after his release never seemed to regain a good foothold in physics, identifying thereafter as a mathematician. He developed a general method of quantizing (linear and non-linear) field theories based on the parameters labelling an arbitrary hypersurface. This method (the ‘parameter formalism’ often attributed to Dirac), though later discarded, was employed (and viewed at the time as an extremely important tool) by the leading figures associated with canonical quantum gravity: Dirac, Pirani and Schild, Bergmann, DeWitt, and others. We argue that he deserves wider recognition for this and other innovations.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag 2015