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This is an ultra-soft question about relatively recent history. While reading some of Mandelstam's papers, I noticed that he cites David John Candlin consistenly whenever he does anything with Grassman path-integral. Everyone else cites Berezin.

So I read Candlin's 1956 paper, and I was stunned to find a complete and correct description of anticommuting variables, presented more lucidly than anywhere else, with a clear definition of Grassman integration, and a proof that it reproduces the Fermionic quantum field. This is clearly the original source of all the Grassman methods. I was stunned that the inventor of this method is quietly buried away.

I wrote the Wikipedia page on the guy, but I couldn't find out anything beyond the sketchy stuff I found on an old Princeton staff listing. The fellow doesn't google very well at all.

Here are the questions:

  • Is he still alive? (Hello? Are you there?)
  • Did he become the experimental physicist David John Candlin in the late 1970s/early 1980s? Or is this someone else with the same name?
  • Did he get any credit for his discovery?

I mean, this is one of the central tools of modern physics, it is used every day by every theorist, and the inventor is never mentioned. It's 50% of the path integral. Why the silence?

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1 Answer 1

I googled a little bit a while ago, and found him. I didn't get any insights into the history of this discovery, he didn't respond to my email. The person I contacted in order to reach him was eventually so offended by my rude email questions that he told me to buzz off. I am only posting this because the guy obviously wants his privacy, and one should respect this. I saw the bounty, and thought people are going to pester this guy in retirement.

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how did you do to close your participation to this site? I am so shocked by what happens here that I want to do the same. –  Sofia Mar 16 at 19:27
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@Sofia: I didn't do it myself, I was blocked repeatedly due to user flags over my language. Regarding your case, the votes were relatively fair, voting is not a problem on these sites. Regarding your questions about whether the Euler Lagrange equation is always a minimum the answer is no--- after one period of the Harmonic oscillator, all solutions starting at q=0 with any initial velocity focus to q=0 again, and beyond this point, the solution to the EL eqn is a saddle point, some perturbations make the action go up, others make it go down. This is basic to Morse theory and Penrose's theorem. –  Ron Maimon Mar 17 at 6:35

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