Indistinguishable elements in the origins of quantum statistics. The case of Fermi–Dirac statistics
Departament de Física de la Matèria Condensada, Universitat de Barcelona, Carrer de Martí i Franquès 1, 08028, Barcelona, Spain
Accepted: 22 November 2021
Published online: 5 January 2022
In this paper, we deal with the historical origins of Fermi–Dirac statistics, focusing on the contribution by Enrico Fermi of 1926. We argue that this statistics, as opposed to that of Bose–Einstein, has been somewhat overlooked in the usual accounts of the old quantum theory. Our main objective is to offer a critical analysis of Fermi’s seminal paper and its immediate impact. Secondly, we are also interested in assessing the status of the particle concept in the years 1926–1927, especially regarding the germ of quantum indistinguishability. We will see, for example, that the first applications of the Fermi–Dirac statistics to the study of metals or stellar matter had a technical nature, and that their main instigators barely touched upon interpretative matters. Finally, we will discuss the reflections and remarks made in these respects in two famous events in physics of 1927, the Como conference and the fifth Solvay congress.
© The Author(s) 2021
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