Weinberg's proof of the spin-statistics theorem

M Massimi, M Redhead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to offer a conceptual analysis of Weinberg's proof of the spin-statistics theorem by comparing it with Pauli's original proof and with the subsequent textbook tradition, which typically resorts to the dichotomy positive energy for half-integral spin particles/microcausality for integral-spin particles. In contrast to this tradition, Weinberg's proof does not directly invoke the positivity of the energy, but derives the theorem from the single relativistic requirement of microcausality. This seemingly innocuous difference marks an important change in the conceptual basis of quantum physics. Its historical, theoretical, and conceptual roots are here reconstructed. The link between Weinberg's proof and Pauli's original is highlighted: Weinberg's proof turns out to do justice to Pauli's anti-Dirac lines of thought. The work of Furry and Oppenheimer is also surveyed as a "third way" between the textbook tradition established by Pauli and Weinberg's approach. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-650
Number of pages30
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Volume34B
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003

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