Monday, August 15, 2011

Wolfgang ( Pascheles) Pauli - History's 5th Greatest Scientist, and Funnier Than Feynman




After 
Galileo, Einstein, Newton, and Dirac (and in that order), THIS is whom I consider to be the world's 5th greatest Scientist in History (and yes, they were all Physicists). They were all Physicists, but THIS is the guy who is the de facto founder of Modern Chemistry. And by now we know Chemistry, complicated Chemistry, is a branch of Physics. 

He reminds of Lou Costello, IMO. He was awesome, and virtually unknown to the general public.

He is mighty in our eyes. 


Before I do the whole copy'n' paste thing on Pauli's Wiki entry, here is an example of his sense of humor from Paul Dirac's Wiki entry, and what may be the 2nd best quote in Physics History after David Mermin's obvious winner which is "Shut up and calculate."



Heisenberg recollected a conversation among young participants at the 1927 Solvay Conference about Einstein and Planck's views on religion. Wolfgang Pauli, Heisenberg and Dirac took part in it. Dirac's contribution was a criticism of the political purpose of religion, which was much appreciated for its lucidity by Bohr when Heisenberg reported it to him later. Among other things, Dirac said:
I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can't for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.[39]
Heisenberg's view was tolerant. Pauli, raised as a Catholic, had kept silent after some initial remarks, but when finally he was asked for his opinion, said: "Well, our friend Dirac has got a religion and its guiding principle is 'There is no God and Paul Dirac is His prophet.'" Everybody, including Dirac, burst into laughter.[40]

Wolfgang Ernst Pauli
 (25 April 1900 – 15 December 1958) was an Austrian theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. In 1945, after being nominated by Albert Einstein, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his "decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle," involving spin theory, underpinning the structure of matter and the whole of chemistry.

Contents

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Biography


Early years

Pauli was born in Vienna to a chemist Wolfgang Joseph Pauli ( Wolf Pascheles, 1869–1955) and his wife Bertha Camilla Schütz. His middle name was given in honor of his godfather, physicist Ernst Mach. Pauli's paternal grandparents were from prominent Jewish families of Prague; his great-grandfather was the Czech-Jewish publisher Wolf Pascheles.[1] His father converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism shortly before his marriage in 1899. His mother, Bertha Schütz, was raised in her mother's Roman Catholic religion; her father was Jewish writer Friedrich Schütz. Pauli was raised as a Roman Catholic, although eventually he and his parents left the Church.[2]
Pauli attended the Döblinger-Gymnasium in Vienna, graduating with distinction in 1918. Only two months after graduation, the young prodigy published his firstpaper, on Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. He attended the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, working under Arnold Sommerfeld, where he received his PhD in July 1921 for his thesis on the quantum theory of ionized molecular hydrogen.
Sommerfeld asked Pauli to review the theory of relativity for the Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften (Encyclopedia of Mathematical Sciences). Two months after receiving his doctorate, Pauli completed the article, which came to 237 pages. It was praised by Einstein; published as a monograph, it remains a standard reference on the subject to this day.
Wolfgang Pauli young.jpg
Pauli spent a year at the University of Göttingen as the assistant to Max Born, and the following year at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, which later became the Niels Bohr Institute in 1965. From 1923 to 1928, he was a lecturer at the University of Hamburg. During this period, Pauli was instrumental in the development of the modern theory of quantum mechanics. In particular, he formulated the exclusion principle and the theory of nonrelativistic spin.
At the end of 1930, shortly after his postulation of the neutrino and immediately following his divorce in November, Pauli had a severe breakdown. He consulted psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung who, like Pauli, lived nearZurich. Jung immediately began interpreting Pauli's deeply archetypal dreams,[3] and Pauli became one of the depth psychologist’s best students. Soon, he began to criticize the epistemology of Jung’s theory scientifically, and this contributed to a certain clarification of the latter’s thoughts, especially about the concept of synchronicity. A great many of these discussions are documented in the Pauli/Jung letters, today published as Atom and Archetype. Jung's elaborate analysis of more than 400 of Pauli's dreams is documented in Psychology and Alchemy.
In 1928, he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at ETH Zurich in Switzerland where he made significant scientific progress. He held visiting professorships at the University of Michigan in 1931, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1935. He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 1931.
The German annexation of Austria in 1938 made him a German national, which became a difficulty with the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Pauli moved to the United States in 1940, where he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at IAS. After the war, in 1946, he became anaturalized citizen of the United States, before returning to Zurich, where he mostly remained for the rest of his life.
In 1958, Pauli was awarded the Max Planck medal. In that same year, he fell ill with pancreatic cancer. When his last assistant, Charles Enz, visited him at the Rotkreuz hospital in Zurich, Pauli asked him: “Did you see the room number?” It was number 137. Throughout his life, Pauli had been preoccupied with the question of why the fine structure constant, a dimensionless fundamental constant, has a value nearly equal to 1/137. Pauli died in that room on 15 December 1958.


entific research


Niels BohrWerner Heisenberg, and Wolfgang Pauli, ca. 1935
Pauli made many important contributions in his career as a physicist, primarily in the field of quantum mechanics. He seldom published papers, preferring lengthy correspondences with colleagues such as Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, with whom he had close friendships. Many of his ideas and results were never published and appeared only in his letters, which were often copied and circulated by their recipients. Pauli was apparently unconcerned that much of his work thus went uncredited.[citation needed]
Pauli proposed in 1924 a new quantum degree of freedom (or quantum number) with two possible values, in order to resolve inconsistencies between observed molecular spectra and the developing theory of quantum mechanics. He formulated the Pauli exclusion principle, perhaps his most important work, which stated that no two electrons could exist in the same quantum state, identified by four quantum numbers including his new two-valued degree of freedom. The idea of spin originated withRalph KronigGeorge Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit one year later identified Pauli's new degree of freedom as electron spin.
In 1926, shortly after Heisenberg published the matrix theory of modern quantum mechanics, Pauli used it to derive the observed spectrum of the hydrogen atom. This result was important in securing credibility for Heisenberg's theory.
Pauli introduced the 2 × 2 Pauli matrices as a basis of spin operators, thus solving the nonrelativistic theory of spin. This work is sometimes said to have influenced Paul Dirac in his creation of the Dirac equation for the relativistic electron, though Dirac stated that he invented these same matrices himself independently at the time, without Pauli's influence. Dirac invented similar but larger (4x4) spin matrices for use in his relativistic treatment of fermionic spin.
In 1930, Pauli considered the problem of beta decay. In a letter of 4 December to Lise Meitner et al., beginning, "Dear radioactive ladies and gentlemen", he proposed the existence of a hitherto unobserved neutral particle with a small mass, no greater than 1% the mass of a proton, in order to explain the continuous spectrum of beta decay. In 1934, Enrico Fermi incorporated the particle, which he called a neutrino, into his theory of beta decay. The neutrino was first confirmed experimentally in 1956 by Frederick Reines and Clyde Cowan, two and a half years before Pauli's death. On receiving the news, he replied by telegram: "Thanks for message. Everything comes to him who knows how to wait. Pauli."[4]
In 1940, he proved the spin-statistics theorem, a critical result of quantum field theory which states that particles with half-integer spin are fermions, while particles with integer spin are bosons.
In 1949, he published a paper on Pauli–Villars regularization: regularization is the term for techniques which modify infinite mathematical integrals to make them finite during calculations, so that one can identify whether the intrinsically infinite quantities in the theory (mass, charge, wavefunction) form a finite and hence calculable set which can be redefined in terms of their experimental values, which criterion is termedrenormalization, and which removes infinities from quantum field theories, but also importantly allows the calculation of higher order corrections in perturbation theory.
Pauli made repeated criticisms of the modern synthesis of evolutionary biology,[5][6] and his contemporary admirers point to modes of epigenetic inheritance as supportive of his arguments.[7]


Personality and reputation

The Pauli effect was named after the anecdotal bizarre ability of his to break experimental equipment simply by being in the vicinity. Pauli was aware of his reputation and was delighted whenever the Pauli effect manifested. These strange occurrences were in line with his investigations into the legitimacy of parapsychology, particularly his collaboration with C. G. Jung on the concept of synchronicity.
Regarding physics, Pauli was famously a perfectionist. This extended not just to his own work, but also to the work of his colleagues. As a result, he became known in the physics community as the "conscience of physics," the critic to whom his colleagues were accountable. He could be scathing in his dismissal of any theory he found lacking, often labelling it ganz falsch, utterly wrong.
However, this was not his most severe criticism, which he reserved for theories or theses so unclearly presented as to be untestable or unevaluatable and, thus, not properly belonging within the realm of science, even though posing as such. They were worse than wrong because they could not be proven wrong. Famously, he once said of such an unclear paper: Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch! "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"
His supposed remarks when meeting another leading physicist, Paul Ehrenfest, illustrates this notion of an arrogant Pauli. The two met at a conference for the first time. Ehrenfest was familiar with Pauli's papers and was quite impressed with them. After a few minutes of conversation, Ehrenfest remarked, "I think I like your Encyclopedia article [on relativity theory] better than I like you," to which Pauli shot back, "That's strange. With me, regarding you, it is just the opposite."[8] The two became very good friends from then on.


Personal life

In May 1929, Pauli left the Roman Catholic Church. In December of that year, he married Käthe Margarethe Deppner. The marriage was an unhappy one, ending in divorce in 1930 after less than a year. He married again in 1934 to Franziska Bertram. They had no children.

Bibliography

by Pauli
  • Pauli, Wolfgang; Jung, C.G. (1955). The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Random House.
  • Pauli, Wolfgang (1981). Theory of Relativity. New York: Dover. ISBN 048664152X.
  • Pauli, Wolfgang; Jung, C.G. (2001). ed. C.A. Meier. ed. Atom and Archetype, The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932–1958. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
about Pauli
  • Enz, Charles P. (2002). No Time to be Brief, A scientific biography of Wolfgang Pauli. Oxford Univ. Press.
  • Enz, Charles P. (1995). "Rationales und Irrationales im Leben Wolfgang Paulis". In ed. H. Atmanspacher, et al.. Der Pauli-Jung-Dialog. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
  • Gieser, Suzanne (2005). The Innermost Kernel. Depth Psychology and Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli's Dialogue with C.G. Jung. Springer Verlag.
  • Jung, C.G. (1980). Psychology and Alchemy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press.
  • Keve, Tom (2000). Triad: the physicists, the analysts, the kabbalists. London: Rosenberger & Krausz.
  • Lindorff, David (1994). Pauli and Jung: The Meeting of Two Great Minds. Quest Books.
  • Pais, Abraham (2000). The Genius of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Enz, P.; von Meyenn, Karl (editors); Schlapp, Robert (translator) (1994). Wolfgang Pauli – Writings on physics and philosophy. Berlin: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-354-05685-99
  • Laurikainen, K. V. (1988). Beyond the Atom – The Philosophical Thought of Wolfgang Pauli. Berlin: Springer Verlag. ISBN 0387194568.
  • Casimir, H. B. G. (1983). Haphazard Reality: Half a Century of Science. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-060-15028-9.
  • Casimir, H. B. G. (1992). Het toeval van de werkelijkheid: Een halve eeuw natuurkunde. Amsterdam: Meulenhof. ISBN 9-029-09709-4.
  • Miller, Arthur I. (2009). Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.. ISBN 978-039-30653-29.


See also


References

  1. ^ Ernst Mach and Wolfgang Pauli's ancestors in Prague
  2. ^ "Jewish Physicists". Retrieved 2006-09-30.
  3. ^ Varlaki, P.; Nadai L.; Bokor, J. (2008). "Number Archetypes and Background Control Theory Concerning the Fine Structure Constant"Acta Polytechnica Hungarica 5 (2). Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  4. ^ Enz, Charles; Meyenn, Karl von (1994). "Wolfgang Pauli, A Biographical Introduction". Writings on Physics and Philosophy (Springer-Verlag).
  5. ^ Pauli, W. (1954). "Naturwissenschaftliche und erkenntnistheoretische Aspekte der Ideen vom Unbewussten". Dialectica 8 (4): 283–301. doi:10.1111/j.1746-8361.1954.tb01265.x.
  6. ^ Atmanspacher, H.; Primas, H. (2006). "Pauli's ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science"Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (3): 5–50. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  7. ^ Conference on Wolfgang Pauli's Philosophical Ideas and Contemporary Science organised by ETHMay 20–25, 2007. The abstract of a paper discussing this by Richard Jorgensen is here
  8. ^ The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, By Jagdish Mehra, Helmut Rechenberg, page 488, Springer (December 28, 2000), ISBN 978-0387951751, citing Oskar Klein.

5 comments:

Horological Rex said...

Hi,

Would you please explain/defend your top five scientists and their placement on your list? I'm not sufficiently educated on these matters to pass judgement; I'm just curious. Thanks.

Curtis

Steven Colyer said...

Sure.

1) Galileo Galilei - Considered "The Father of Modern Science." When you start digging into any field, it's wise to consult the Daddy first.

2) Albert Einstein - The founder of Relativity and after Max Planck, the 2nd major contributor of quantum mechanics. We live in a quantum mechanical universe where everything is relative on the largest scales, nuff said.

3) Issac Newton - Co-creator with Gottfried Leibniz of Calculus, which changed everything, and of his famous Laws of Motion, including the all important 2nd Law, Force = Mass times acceleration.

Residents of the United Kingdom and their commonwealth countries are entitled to switch #'s 2 and 3. We understand. Tea at 4, old chap? This is why the sun set on the British Empire. The enemy never stopped a battle at 4 for tea. How very polite, old bean. In America on the other hand, we told Annie to get her gun. She did, she shot, and could take out a nickle at 300 yards with it.

4) Paul Dirac - Actually, THE funniest person in Science of all time, although not intentionally. A man of few words. In semantics, the unit of conversation is the dirac: one spoken word per year. Also united special relativity and quantum mechanics, thus launching the field of quantum field theory.

5) Wolfy - well, that's what this weblog blarticle is about. Married a Colorado dancing girl, which is impressive, and no surprise the marriage didn't last.

Steven Colyer said...

Here is an example of Pauli's sense of humor from Paul Dirac's Wiki entry, and what may be the 2nd best quote in Physics History after David Mermin's obvious winner which is "Shut up and calculate."

Heisenberg recollected a conversation among young participants at the 1927 Solvay Conference about Einstein and Planck's views on religion. Wolfgang Pauli, Heisenberg and Dirac took part in it. Dirac's contribution was a criticism of the political purpose of religion, which was much appreciated for its lucidity by Bohr when Heisenberg reported it to him later. Among other things, Dirac said:
“ I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. But nowadays, when we understand so many natural processes, we have no need for such solutions. I can't for the life of me see how the postulate of an Almighty God helps us in any way. What I do see is that this assumption leads to such unproductive questions as why God allows so much misery and injustice, the exploitation of the poor by the rich and all the other horrors He might have prevented. If religion is still being taught, it is by no means because its ideas still convince us, but simply because some of us want to keep the lower classes quiet. Quiet people are much easier to govern than clamorous and dissatisfied ones. They are also much easier to exploit. Religion is a kind of opium that allows a nation to lull itself into wishful dreams and so forget the injustices that are being perpetrated against the people. Hence the close alliance between those two great political forces, the State and the Church. Both need the illusion that a kindly God rewards—in heaven if not on earth—all those who have not risen up against injustice, who have done their duty quietly and uncomplainingly. That is precisely why the honest assertion that God is a mere product of the human imagination is branded as the worst of all mortal sins.[39] ”
Heisenberg's view was tolerant. Pauli, raised as a Catholic, had kept silent after some initial remarks, but when finally he was asked for his opinion, said: "Well, our friend Dirac has got a religion and its guiding principle is 'There is no God and Paul Dirac is His prophet.'" Everybody, including Dirac, burst into laughter.[40]

Curtis said...

Hi,

Thank you for taking the time to explain your rankings. I've seen such lists in the pasts and, in the main, numbers 1 and 2 are either Newton and Einstein.

I don't recall the quote exactly, but Dirac is reported to have said something like, "The goal of science is to make the difficult understandable. The goal of poetry is to make the simple difficult." I like and agree with that sentiment.

Steven Colyer said...

You're welcome, but I probably should have said Physicist, as it was pointed out to me by someone I admire that Darwin and Freud should be in there. ;-)

That's a good quote thanks, and I believe Dirac WOULD have said something like that.