This is the second article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After successfully applying quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field, physicists faced a problem of boundless proportions: every calculation they made returned infinity as the answer.
In February this year we were lucky enough to interview
Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Studies in
Princeton, USA. Dyson is now 89 and still does physics every day in
his first floor office at the Institute.
Here is an edited version of our interview that we hope conveys his
generous nature, wit and intellect.
You may have heard of quantum theory and you probably know what a field is. But what is quantum field theory? This article traces the development of quantum electrodynamics in the first half of the 20th century. Hair raising difficulties, heroic struggle and illustrious characters — this story has it all!
This is the last article in a four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After a breakthrough that tamed QED in theory, the stick-like drawings known as Feynman diagrams, policed by a young Freeman Dyson, made the theory useable.