Dirac ignored Schrodinger's theory in his PhD thesis "Quantum Mechanics", the first to be submitted anywhere on the subject. The thesis was a great success with his examiners who took the unusual step on 19 June of sending him a short hand written letter congratulating him on the "exceptional distinction" of his work.
....Dirac disliked celebrations and formality, so he was almost certainly not looking forward to the ceremony. He could have taken the degree without attending it but decided to be there in person for the sake of his proud parents, especially this father, who had given him the money that enabled him to begin his Cambridge studies.
...Wearing evening dress with a white bow tie, a small black cap and black silk down with a scarlet-lined hood, he knelt on a velvet cushion, placed his hands together and held them out to be grasped by the Vice Chancellor, who delivered a prayer-like oration. Dirac arose, a doctor.
Like his father, he had no need of holidays – the long vacations were not for relaxing but for hard work. The university was about to hibernate for the summer and would be virtually devoid of social distractions for the few scholars remaining. It was the perfect environment for Dirac to concentrate even more intensively on his work. Heisenberg and Schrodinger had knifed a sack of gemstones, and the race was on to pick out the diamonds.
-- Graham Farmelo, The Strangest Man
I hope Google is nicer.
http://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/it-takes-guts-to-do... also comes to mind as Dirac and quantum mechanics related.
Today it seems that physics has most things pretty well figured out, but there are the loose ends of dark matter and dark energy. We don't know exactly what they are, but they seem to make up almost 95% of the content of the universe! So there might still be a chance for another wholesale revolution or two in physics.
making a fundamental discovery is not necessary to be a 'great mind', I think. As the man himself said, 'what I cannot create, I do not understand'.
Gamow's Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory http://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Years-that-Shook-Physics/dp/048... is the standard non-specialist account of this, it starts with Plank right after the turn of the century and is essentially complete in 3 decades, about when Feynman was in high school and teaching himself serious math.
Reading Dirac's table of contents is like reading the chapter headings in my undergrad quantum physics textbook. The thing is though, he's actually responsible for a lot of it!
Other historical theses:
1. 'Gravity by Newton'
2. 'Evolution by Darwin'
3. 'The Earth Orbits the Sun, Not the Other Way Around by Copernicus'
These three lectures by Hans Bethe are really interesting to watch and gives you a historical perspective on the development of Quantum Physics. Given his age, the delivery is a bit slow, but it piques your interest in the subject.
He relocated to Florida towards the end of his life.
*edited the part where I assert OP was wrong.
There's also the word "dusk", which is the opposite of "dawn", but it tends not to be used metaphorically.
Having said that I wouldn't recommend anyone to read this. Instead, there's this awesome gem, which I have read multiple times. Don't believe anyone who says it's outdated and you shouldn't read it.
P.A.M. Dirac: The Principles of Quantum Mechanics
The Cambridge Physics course is fairly hard core of course, but I would expect such a course to be part of any serious Physics undergraduate degree in the UK.
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