Ann Moyal

Dr Ann Moyal is a leading historian of science. She has written some ten books and many papers on social and institutional aspects of science, telecommunications, technology, and science policy in Australia for which she was made a Member of the Order of Australia and awarded the Centenary Medal. Her recent books include the prize-winning Platypus, the Extraordinary story of how a curious creature baffled the world. She has taught and researched in several Australian Universities, including The Australian National University, the New South Wales Institute of Technology, and Griffith University, Queensland. She married Joe Moyal in 1963.

Maverick Mathematician »

The Life and Science of J.E. Moyal

Authored by: Ann Moyal
Publication date: August 2006
J.E. Moyal has been pronounced ‘one of Australia’s most remarkable thinkers’. Yet, he was, essentially, a scientific maverick. Educated in a modest high school in Tel Aviv, he took himself to France to train as an engineer, statistician and mathematician and escaped to England as France fell. It was from outside academia that he entered into communication with the ‘high priest’ of British theoretical physics, P.A.M. Dirac, challenging him with the idea of a statistical basis of quantum mechanics. Their correspondence forms the core of this book and opens up an important and hitherto unknown chapter for physicists, mathematicians and historians of science. Moyal’s classic paper, ‘A statistical basis for quantum mechanics’, also reproduced here in full, has come to underlie an explosion of research and to underpin an array of major technological developments. Joe Moyal emerges in this small biography as a witty and intrepid character, a scuba diver and wine connoisseur, a generous teacher and researcher, and a man whose academic life-spanning France, Ireland, Britain, the USA and Australia-intersected with some of the leading scientists of the 20th century.