Wolfgang Ernst Pauli (/ˈpɔːli/; German: [ˈpaʊli]; 25 April
1900 – 15 December 1958) was an Austrian-born Swiss and American
theoretical physicist and one of the pioneers of quantum physics. In
1945, after having been nominated by Albert Einstein, Pauli
Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics for his "decisive contribution
through his discovery of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle
or Pauli principle". The discovery involved spin theory, which is the
basis of a theory of the structure of matter.
1.1 Early years
1.2 Scientific research
1.3 Personality and reputation
1.4 Personal life
4 Further reading
5 External links
Pauli was born in
Vienna to a chemist Wolfgang Joseph Pauli (né Wolf
Pascheles, 1869–1955) and his wife Bertha Camilla Schütz; his
sister was Hertha Pauli, the writer and actress. Pauli's 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
Jewish publisher Wolf Pascheles.
Pauli's father converted from
Roman Catholicism shortly
before his marriage in 1899. Pauli's mother, Bertha Schütz, was
raised in her own 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. He is
considered to have been a deist and a mystic.
Pauli attended the Döblinger-Gymnasium in Vienna, graduating with
distinction in 1918. Only two months after graduation, he published
his first paper, on Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. He
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 diatomic hydrogen (H+
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 lecturing
Pauli spent a year at the
University of Göttingen
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
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
In 1928, he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at ETH
Switzerland where he made significant scientific progress.
He held visiting professorships at the
University of Michigan
University of Michigan in 1931,
Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1935. He was
Lorentz Medal in 1931.
At the end of 1930, shortly after his postulation of the neutrino and
immediately following his divorce and the suicide of his mother, Pauli
experienced a personal crisis. He consulted psychiatrist and
Carl Jung who, like Pauli, lived near Zurich. Jung
immediately began interpreting Pauli's deeply archetypal dreams,
and Pauli became one of the depth psychologist's best students. He
soon 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.
The German annexation of
Austria in 1938 made him a German citizen,
which became a problem for him in 1939 after the outbreak of World War
II. In 1940, he tried in vain to obtain Swiss citizenship, which would
have allowed him to remain at the ETH.
Pauli moved to the
United States in 1940, where he was employed as a
professor of theoretical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study.
In 1946, after the war, he became a naturalized citizen of the United
States and subsequently returned to Zurich, where he mostly remained
for the rest of his life. In 1949, he was granted Swiss citizenship.
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.
Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Wolfgang Pauli, ca. 1935
Pauli made many important contributions 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 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 with Ralph Kronig.
George Uhlenbeck and Samuel
Goudsmit one year later identified Pauli's new degree of freedom as
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
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
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."
In 1940, he re-derived 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 termed renormalization, 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, and his contemporary admirers point to modes of
epigenetic inheritance as supportive of his arguments.
Personality and reputation
Wolfgang Pauli, ca. 1924
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: It is not even wrong!"
His supposed remark 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." The two became very good friends from then on.
A somewhat warmer picture emerges from this story, which appears in
the article on Dirac:
Werner Heisenberg [in Physics and Beyond, 1971] recollects a friendly
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
poignant and clear criticism of the political manipulation of
religion, that 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 as scientists honesty is our precise duty – we cannot help
but admit that any religion is a pack of false statements, deprived of
any real foundation. The very idea of God is a product of human
imagination. [...] I do not recognize any religious myth, at least
because they contradict one another. [...]" Heisenberg's view was
tolerant. Pauli had kept silent, after some initial remarks. But when
finally he was asked for his opinion, jokingly he said: "Well, I'd say
that also our friend Dirac has got a religion and the first
commandment of this religion is 'God does not exist and
Paul Dirac is
his prophet'". Everybody burst into laughter, including Dirac.
Many of Pauli's ideas and results were never published and appeared
only in his letters, which were often copied and circulated by their
recipients. Pauli may have been unconcerned that much of his work thus
went uncredited, but when it came to Heisenberg's world-renowned 1958
lecture at Göttingen on their joint work on a unified field theory,
and the press release calling Pauli a mere "assistant to Professor
Heisenberg", Pauli became offended, denouncing Heisenberg's physics
prowess. The deterioration between them resulted in Heisenberg
ignoring Pauli's funeral, and writing in his autobiography that
Pauli's criticisms were overwrought. Pauli was elected a Foreign
Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1953. In 1958 he became
foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Wolfgang Pauli (1962)
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 (1901–1987). They had no
Pauli, Wolfgang; Jung, C. G. (1955). The Interpretation of Nature and
the Psyche. Ishi Press. ISBN 4-87187-713-2.
Pauli, Wolfgang (1981). Theory of Relativity. New York: Dover
Publications. ISBN 0-486-64152-X.
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. ISBN 978-0-691012-07-0. CS1
maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
^ Dazinger, Walter (27 January 2014). "Preisträger" (PDF) (in
German). Institut für Angewandte Synthesechemie, Vienna, Austria: Die
Ignaz-Lieben-Gesellschaft Verein zur Förderung der
Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March
2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
^ a b c d e Peierls, Rudolf (1960). "Wolfgang Ernst Pauli 1900-1958".
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. Royal Society.
^ a b c d e
Wolfgang Pauli at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
^ Gerald E. Brown and Chang-Hwan Lee (2006):
Hans Bethe and His
Physics, World Scientific, ISBN 981-256-610-4, p. 338
^ "Pauli". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
^ "Nomination Database: Wolfgang Pauli". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved
Ernst Mach and Wolfgang Pauli's ancestors in Prague
Jewish Physicists". Retrieved 2006-09-30.
^ Charles Paul Enz (2002). No Time to Be Brief: A Scientific Biography
of Wolfgang Pauli. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198564799.
At the same time Pauli writes on 11 October 1957 to the science
historian Shmuel Sambursky whom he had met on his trip to Israel (see
Ref. , p. 964): 'In opposition to the monotheist religions – but
in unison with the mysticism of all peoples, including the Jewish
mysticism – I believe that the ultimate reality is not
Werner Heisenberg (2007). Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in
Modern Science. HarperCollins. pp. 214–215.
ISBN 9780061209192. Wolfgang shared my concern. ..."Einstein's
conception is closer to mine. His God is somehow involved in the
immutable laws of nature. Einstein has a feeling for the central order
of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws. We may
take it that he felt this simplicity very strongly and directly during
his discovery of the theory of relativity. Admittedly, this is a far
cry from the contents of religion. I don't believe Einstein is tied to
any religious tradition, and I rather think the idea of a personal God
is entirely foreign to him."
^ Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst (1921). Über das Modell des
Wasserstoff-Molekülions (PhD thesis). Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
^ Varlaki, P.; Nadai L.; Bokor, J. (2008). "Number Archetypes and
Background Control Theory Concerning the Fine Structure Constant"
(PDF). Acta Polytechnica Hungarica. 5 (2). Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ Charles Paul Enz: No Time to be Brief: A Scientific Biography of
Wolfgang Pauli, first published 2002, reprinted 2004,
ISBN 0-19-856479-1, p. 338
^ "By a 'cabalistic' coincidence,
Wolfgang Pauli died in room 137 of
the Red-Cross hospital at
Zurich on 15 December 1958." - Of Mind and
Spirit, Selected Essays of Charles Enz, Charles Paul Enz, World
Scientific, 2009, ISBN 978-981-281-900-0, pg.95.
^ Enz, Charles; Meyenn, Karl von (1994). Wolfgang Pauli, A
Biographical Introduction. Writings on Physics and Philosophy.
Springer-Verlag. p. 19.
^ Pauli, W. (1954). "Naturwissenschaftliche und erkenntnistheoretische
Aspekte der Ideen vom Unbewussten". Dialectica. 8 (4): 283–301.
^ Atmanspacher, H.; Primas, H. (2006). "Pauli's ideas on mind and
matter in the context of contemporary science" (PDF). Journal of
Consciousness Studies. 13 (3): 5–50. Archived from the original
(PDF) on 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ Conference on Wolfgang Pauli's Philosophical Ideas and Contemporary
Science organised by
ETH May 20–25, 2007. The abstract of a paper
discussing this by Richard Jorgensen is here 
^ The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, By Jagdish Mehra,
Helmut Rechenberg, page 488, Springer (December 28, 2000),
ISBN 978-0-387-95175-1, citing Oskar Klein.
Arthur I. Miller (10 Dec 2009). "The strange friendship of Pauli and
Jung – Part 6" (flv). CERN. University College London.
pp. 4–6:00,8:10–8:50. ...a press release that read, most
offensively to Pauli, 'Professor Heisenberg and his assistant W.
^ "Wolfgang Ernst Pauli (1900 - 1958)". Royal Netherlands Academy of
Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
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. CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
Fischer, Ernst Peter (2004). Brücken zum Kosmos.
Wolfgang Pauli –
Denkstoffe und Nachtträume zwischen Kernphysik und Weltharmonie.
Libelle. ISBN 978-3-909081-44-8.
Gieser, Suzanne (2005). The Innermost Kernel. Depth Psychology and
Quantum Physics. Wolfgang Pauli's Dialogue with C.G. Jung. Springer
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
Enz, P.; von Meyenn, Karl (editors); Schlapp, Robert (translator)
Wolfgang Pauli – Writings on physics and philosophy. Berlin:
Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-56859-9. CS1 maint: Extra
text: authors list (link)
Laurikainen, K. V. (1988). Beyond the Atom – The Philosophical
Thought of Wolfgang Pauli. Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Casimir, H. B. G. (1983). Haphazard Reality: Half a Century of
Science. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015028-9.
Casimir, H. B. G. (1992). Het toeval van de werkelijkheid: Een halve
eeuw natuurkunde. Amsterdam: Meulenhof. ISBN 90-290-9709-4.
Miller, Arthur I. (2009). Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange
Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. New York: W.W. Norton
& Co. ISBN 978-0-393-06532-9.
Remo, F. Roth: Return of the World Soul, Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and
the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality [unus mundus], Part 1: The
Battle of the Giants. Pari Publishing, 2011,
Remo, F. Roth: Return of the World Soul, Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and
the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality [unus mundus], Part 2: A
Psychophysical Theory. Pari Publishing, 2012,
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Wolfgang Pauli
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wolfgang Pauli.
Publications by and about
Wolfgang Pauli in the catalogue Helveticat
of the Swiss National Library
Wolfgang Pauli at the official Nobel Prize site
Pauli bio at the University of St Andrews, Scotland
Wolfgang Pauli bio at "Nobel Prize Winners"
Carl Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz
Wolfgang Pauli at the
Emilio Segrè Visual Archives,
American Institute of Physics[permanent dead link]
Virtual walk-through exhibition of the life and times of Pauli
Annotated bibliography for
Wolfgang Pauli from the Alsos Digital
Library for Nuclear Issues
Pauli Archives at CERN Document Server
Virtual exhibition at ETH-Bibliothek, Zurich
Wolfgang Pauli – Linus Pauling and the Nature of
the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History
Pauli's letter (December 1930), the hypothesis of the neutrino (online
and analyzed, for English version click 'Télécharger')
Pauli exclusion principle
Pauli exclusion principle with Melvyn Bragg, Frank Close, Michela
Graham Farmelo "In Our Time 6 April 2017"
Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physics
1902 Lorentz / Zeeman
1903 Becquerel / P. Curie / M. Curie
1906 J. J. Thomson
1909 Marconi / Braun
1910 Van der Waals
1913 Kamerlingh Onnes
1915 W. L. Bragg / W. H. Bragg
1922 N. Bohr
1924 M. Siegbahn
1925 Franck / Hertz
1927 Compton / C. Wilson
1928 O. Richardson
1929 De Broglie
1933 Schrödinger / Dirac
1936 Hess / C. D. Anderson
1937 Davisson / G. P. Thomson
1951 Cockcroft / Walton
1952 Bloch / Purcell
1954 Born / Bothe
1955 Lamb / Kusch
1956 Shockley / Bardeen / Brattain
1957 C. N. Yang / T. D. Lee
1958 Cherenkov / Frank / Tamm
1959 Segrè / Chamberlain
1961 Hofstadter / Mössbauer
1963 Wigner / Goeppert-Mayer / Jensen
1964 Townes / Basov / Prokhorov
1965 Tomonaga / Schwinger / Feynman
1970 Alfvén / Néel
1972 Bardeen / Cooper / Schrieffer
1973 Esaki / Giaever / Josephson
1974 Ryle / Hewish
1975 A. Bohr / Mottelson / Rainwater
1976 Richter / Ting
1977 P. W. Anderson / Mott / Van Vleck
1978 Kapitsa / Penzias / R. Wilson
1979 Glashow / Salam / Weinberg
1980 Cronin / Fitch
1981 Bloembergen / Schawlow / K. Siegbahn
1982 K. Wilson
1983 Chandrasekhar / Fowler
1984 Rubbia / Van der Meer
1985 von Klitzing
1986 Ruska / Binnig / Rohrer
1987 Bednorz / Müller
1988 Lederman / Schwartz / Steinberger
1989 Ramsey / Dehmelt / Paul
1990 Friedman / Kendall / R. Taylor
1991 de Gennes
1993 Hulse / J. Taylor
1994 Brockhouse / Shull
1995 Perl / Reines
1996 D. Lee / Osheroff / R. Richardson
1997 Chu / Cohen-Tannoudji / Phillips
1998 Laughlin / Störmer / Tsui
1999 't Hooft / Veltman
2000 Alferov / Kroemer / Kilby
2001 Cornell / Ketterle / Wieman
2002 Davis / Koshiba / Giacconi
2003 Abrikosov / Ginzburg / Leggett
2004 Gross / Politzer / Wilczek
2005 Glauber / Hall / Hänsch
2006 Mather / Smoot
2007 Fert / Grünberg
2008 Nambu / Kobayashi / Maskawa
2009 Kao / Boyle / Smith
2010 Geim / Novoselov
2011 Perlmutter / Riess / Schmidt
2012 Wineland / Haroche
2013 Englert / Higgs
2014 Akasaki / Amano / Nakamura
2015 Kajita / McDonald
2016 Thouless / Haldane / Kosterlitz
2017 Weiss / Barish / Thorne
ISNI: 0000 0001 0891 1472
BNF: cb120897931 (data)