mystic numbers


Soon after he arrived to take up a new post in Zurich in the early 1930s, exhausted and emerging from divorce and a breakdown, the physicist Wolfgang Pauli took the obvious course: he checked himself into the clinic of the local analytical psychologist Carl Jung for a course of therapy. So began one of the most extraordinary partnerships of the twentieth century. Over the following twenty-five years, the two men worked together, not just on Pauli’s emotional problems but on a quest to unify the worlds of science and human psychology. Arthur I. Miller is not the first to mine their extensive correspondence for insights into both men, but his accessible account should bring this odd couple to a wider readership. Pauli was a leading member of the group of theoretical physicists, including Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger, who transformed our understanding of the way matter behaves at the subatomic level. Apart from his own discovery of the “exclusion principle”, which underlies our understanding of electricity and magnetism and for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1945, Pauli received the grudging admiration of his colleagues for acting as their most trenchant critic.

more from Georgina Ferry at the TLS here.