Dirac decide comentar sobre cómo es el trabajo de un investigador, tratando su caso y el de otros:
I would like to speak to you in a general way about my scientific work and I think on an occasion like this my talk should be completely nontechnical. So I will put this talk on rather different lines and try to give you some idea of the feelings of a research worker when he is hot on the trail and has hopes of attaining some important result which will have a profound influence on the development of physics. You might think that a good research worker in this situation would review the situation quite calmly and unemotionally and with a completely logical mind, and proceed to develop whatever ideas he has in an entirely rational way. This is far from being the case. The research worker is only human and, if he has great hopes, he also has great fears. (I do not suppose one can ever have great hopes without their being combined with great fears.) As a result, his course of action is very much disturbed. He is not able to fix his attention on the correct logical line of development.
I shall be talking to you mainly about my own experience in this connection, but from talks which I have had with other physicists, soe of them very eminent, I feel that what I have to say is fairly common and you can accept it as a general rule applying to all research workers who are concerned with the foundations of physical theory. They are influenced by their fears to quite a dominating extent.
Y toma como ejemplo a Lorentz. Dirac era un gran estudioso de la relatividad desde sus primeros años de estudio de la física.
I expect similar fears applied to other cases where we do not have any direct evidence of events. In this connection I would like to refer particularly to Lorentz. Any of you who have studied relativity must surely have wondered why it was that Lorentz succeeded in getting correctly all the basic equations needed to establish the relativity of space and time, but he just was not able to make the final step establishing relativity. He did all the hard work - all the really necessary mathematics - but he was not able to go beyond that and you will ask yourself, 'Why'?
I think he must have been held back by fears, some kind of inhibition. He was really afraid to venture into entirely new ground, to question ideas which had been accepted from time immemorial. He preferred to stay on the solid ground of his mathematics. So long as he stayed there his position was unassailable. If he had gone further, he would not have known what criticism he might have run into. It was the desire to stay on perfectly safe ground which I presume was dominating him.
It needed several years and the boldness of Einstein to take the necessary step forward and say that time and space are connected. What seems to us nowadays a very small step forward was very difficult for the people in those days.
What I have said is just conjecture of course, but I feel that it must correspond rather closely to the facts. I do not see any other explanation of how one can get so near to a great discovery and yet fail at the last, and rather small, step.
Bueno, no veo que sea un paso pequeño el que faltaba. Realmente, hacía falta toda la agudeza de Einstein para llegar a la teoría de la relatividad restringida, aún teniendo las fórmulas de Lorentz. Y Lorentz tenía una explicación clásica alternativa a sus fórmulas, que lo satisfacía, y no le hizo falta otra. Vean que pasaron años desde las fórmulas de Lorentz hasta el avance de Einstein. No fue evidente para nadie ese "pequeño" paso que faltaba.
En el próximo post, Dirac comenta sobre el desarrollo de la física cuántica.
Angel "Java" Lopez