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Editorial note to: Erwin Schrödinger, Dirac electron in the gravitational field I

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JournalGeneral Relativity and Gravitation
DateAccepted/In press - 10 Oct 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Dec 2019
DatePublished (current) - 2020
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Early online date19/12/19
Original languageEnglish


Editorial Note with a mathematical and historical introduction to a 1932 paper by Erwin Schrödinger on the generalization of the Dirac equation to a curved spacetime -- to appear in the 'Golden Oldie' section of the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation alongside an English translation of that paper. The Schrödinger paper is of interest as the first place that the well-known formula gμν∇μ∇ν+m2+R4 was obtained for the 'square' of the Dirac operator in curved spacetime. This formula is known by a number of names and we explain why we favour the name 'Schrödinger-Lichnerowicz formula'. We also aim to explain how the modern notion of `spin connection' emerged from a debate in the physics journals in the period 1929-1933. We discuss the key contributions of Weyl, Fock and Cartan and explain how and why they were partly in conflict with the approaches of Schrödinger and several other authors. We reference and comment on some previous historical accounts of this topic.

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