What is an Electron? Relativistic Electron Theory and Radiative Processes

  • A. O. Barut
Part of the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Series book series (NSSB, volume 94)


Quantum theory originated from the remarkable behavior of electrons, light quanta and their interactions. One can take the point of view that a better understanding of quantum theory is a better understanding of the entities we call “electron” and “photon”, rather than the quantum theory being the new abstract laws of nature that we have simply to accept. For problems and “paradoxes” in the quantum theory of measurement it is important to ask what are the objects that we are trying to measure. Instead of saying that the electron or photon have particle behavior or wave behavior, we could say that we really do not know how they look like, but we can approximate them by a wave or a particle, better yet by a wave and a particle. It is worth recalling what the pioneers of the concepts of photon and electron have said after a lifelong occupation with their own creation! A. Einstein (1955): “Every physicist thinks that he knows what a photon is. I spent my whole life to find out what a photon is, and I still don’t know it”. And P.A.M. Dirac “I really spent my life mainly trying to find better equations for quantumelectrodynamics, and so far without success, but I continue to work on it”2.


Quantum Theory Coherent State Dirac Equation Rest Frame Radiative Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Einstein expressed the same sentiment in a number of other writings and letters in the 1950’s.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P.A.M. Dirac, European Conference on Particle Physics, Budapest, July 1977.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    P.A.M. Dirac, Proc. Roy. Soc. (A) 167, 148 (1938) See also the review: C. Teitelboim, D. Villarroel and Ch. G. van Weert, Rivista Nuov. Com. 3, 1–64 (1980).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A. O. Barut, Phys. Rev. D. 10, 3335 (1974).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    W. Wessel, Fortschritte d. Phys. 12, 409 (1964).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. O. Barut, Proc. Clausthal Conference on Differential geometric Methods in Physics 1980, Lecture Notes in Mathematics (1981)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    E. Schrödinger, Sitzungsb. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Phys.-Math Kl. 24, 418 (1930); 3, 1(1931).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A. O. Barut and A. J. Bracken, Phys. Rev.D 23, 2454 (1981).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    A. O. Barut and A. J. Bracken, The Magnetic Moment Operator of the Relativistic electron, Phys. Rev. D 24, 3333 (1981).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. O. Barut, Physics Letters 73B, 310 (1978).MathSciNetADSGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    E. P. Wigner, Phys. Rev. 77, 711 (1950).MathSciNetADSMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    I. Saavedra and C. Utreras, Physics Lett. 98B, 74 (1981)ADSGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    A.O. Barut, Phys. Rev. Lett. 42, 1251 (1979).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. O. Barut, in Groups, Systems and Many-body Physics, edit. P. Kramier et al (Vieweg Verlag, 1980); Ch. VI, p. 285–317Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    A. O. Barut, Z. f. Naturf. 33a, 993 (1978).ADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. O. Barut
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations