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Wolfgang Pauli

Birthdate: 25. April 1900
Date of death: 15. December 1958

Wolfgang Ernst Pauli 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 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". The discovery involved spin theory, which is the basis of a theory of the structure of matter.

„I don't mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Ich habe nichts dagegen wenn Sie langsam denken, Herr Doktor, aber ich babe etwas dagegen wenn Sie rascher publizieren als denken.
As quoted in The Harvest of a Quiet Eye : A Selection of Scientific Quotations (1977) by Alan Lindsay Mackay, p. 117

„This isn't right. This isn't even wrong.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Response after reading a colleague's paper, quoted in The Successful Toastmaster: A Treasure Chest of Introductions, Epigrams, Humor, and Quotations (1966) by Herbert Victor Prochnow, p. 350, and in Mathematical Apocrypha Redux : More Stories and Anecdotes of Mathematicians and the Mathematical (2005) by Steven George Krantz, p. 194
This paper is so bad it is not even wrong.
As quoted in Comic Sections : The Book of Mathematical Jokes, Humour, Wit, and Wisdom (1993) by Des MacHale
Das is nicht einmal falsch.
It is not even wrong.
As quoted in Not Even Wrong : The Failure Of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law (2006) by Peter Woit (2006), Preface, p. xii

„What now is the answer to the question as to the bridge between the perception of the senses and the concepts, which is now reduced to the question as to the bridge between the outer perceptions and those inner image-like representations.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Letter to Markus Fierz (1948)
Context: What now is the answer to the question as to the bridge between the perception of the senses and the concepts, which is now reduced to the question as to the bridge between the outer perceptions and those inner image-like representations. It seems to me one has to postulate a cosmic order of nature — outside of our arbitrariness— to which the outer material objects are subjected as are the inner images... The organizing and regulating has to be posited beyond the differentiation of physical and psychical... I am all for it to call this "organizing and regulating" "archetypes." It would then be inadmissible to define these as psychic contents. Rather, the above-mentioned inner pictures (dominants of the collective unconscious, see Jung) are the psychic manifestations of the archetypes, but which would have to produce and condition all nature laws belonging to the world of matter. The nature laws of matter would then be the physical manifestation of the archetypes.

„All we can observe is their effect on other living people, whose spiritual level and whose personal unconscious crucially influence the way these contents actually manifest themselves.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

"Modern Examples of Background Physics" ["Moderne Beispiele zur Hintergrundsphysik"] (1948) as translated by David Roscoe in Atom and Archetype (1992) edited by Carl Alfred Meier
Context: Although I have no objection to accepting the existence of relatively constant psychic contents that survive personal ego, it must always be born in mind that we have no way of knowing what these contents are actually like "as such." All we can observe is their effect on other living people, whose spiritual level and whose personal unconscious crucially influence the way these contents actually manifest themselves.

„When one analyzes the pre-conscious step to concepts, one always finds ideas which consist of "symbolic images."“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Letter to Markus Fierz (1948)
Context: When one analyzes the pre-conscious step to concepts, one always finds ideas which consist of "symbolic images." The first step to thinking is a painted vision of these inner pictures whose origin cannot be reduced only and firstly to the sensual perception but which are produced by an 'instinct to imagining' and which are re-produced by different individuals independently, i. e. collectively... But the archaic image is also the necessary predisposition and the source of a scientific attitude. To a total recognition belong also those images out of which have grown the rational concepts.

„It seems significant that according to quantum physics the indestructibility of energy on one hand — which expresses its timeless existence — and the appearance of energy in space and time on the other hand correspond to two contradictory (complementary) aspects of reality.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

"Modern Examples of Background Physics" ["Moderne Beispiele zur Hintergrundsphysik"] (1948) as translated by David Roscoe in Atom and Archetype (1992) edited by Carl Alfred Meier
Context: It seems significant that according to quantum physics the indestructibility of energy on one hand — which expresses its timeless existence — and the appearance of energy in space and time on the other hand correspond to two contradictory (complementary) aspects of reality. In fact, both are always present, but in individual cases the one or the other may be more pronounced.

„This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

In a letter to George Gamow, 1958, commenting on Werner Heisenberg's claim to a journalist that Pauli and Heisenberg have found a unified field theory, "but the technical details were missing"; as quoted in Hyperspace : A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension (1995) by Michio Kaku, p. 137
Context: This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. [A big drawing of a rectangle] Only technical details are missing.

„I rather think the idea of a personal God is entirely foreign to him. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Statements after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) http://www.edge.org/conversation/science-and-religion by Werner Heisenberg
Context: At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas. The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community, even if its parables and images conveyed no more than the vaguest hint as to their underlying values and ideas. But if he himself is to live by these values, the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society. For "believing" does not to him mean "taking for granted," but rather "trusting in the guidance" of accepted values. That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms. The complete separation of knowledge and faith can at best be an emergency measure, afford some temporary relief. In western culture, for instance, we may well reach the point in the not too distant future where the parables and images of the old religions will have lost their persuasive force even for the average person; when that happens, I am afraid that all the old ethics will collapse like a house of cards and that unimaginable horrors will be perpetrated. In brief, I cannot really endorse Planck's philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
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. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.

„At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Statements after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) http://www.edge.org/conversation/science-and-religion by Werner Heisenberg
Context: At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas. The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community, even if its parables and images conveyed no more than the vaguest hint as to their underlying values and ideas. But if he himself is to live by these values, the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society. For "believing" does not to him mean "taking for granted," but rather "trusting in the guidance" of accepted values. That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms. The complete separation of knowledge and faith can at best be an emergency measure, afford some temporary relief. In western culture, for instance, we may well reach the point in the not too distant future where the parables and images of the old religions will have lost their persuasive force even for the average person; when that happens, I am afraid that all the old ethics will collapse like a house of cards and that unimaginable horrors will be perpetrated. In brief, I cannot really endorse Planck's philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
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. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.

„The purely psychological interpretation only apprehends half of the matter. The other half is the revealing of the archetypal basis of the terms actually applied in modern physics.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Letter to Carl Jung, (16 June 1948)
Context: The purely psychological interpretation only apprehends half of the matter. The other half is the revealing of the archetypal basis of the terms actually applied in modern physics. What the final method of observation must see in the production of "background physics" through the unconscious of modern man is a directing of objective toward a future description of nature that uniformly comprises physis and psyche, a form of description that at the moment we are experiencing only in a prescientific phase. To achieve such a uniform description of nature, it appears to be essential to have recourse to the archetypal background of the scientific terms and concepts.

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„Nevertheless, there remains still in the new kind of theory an objective reality, inasmuch as these theories deny any possibility for the observer to influence the result of a measurement, once the experimental arrangement is chosen.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

"Matter" in Man's Right to Knowledge, 2nd series (1954), p. 10; also in Writings on Physics and Philosophy‎ (1994) edited by Charles Paul P. Enz and Karl von Meyenn
Context: In the new pattern of thought we do not assume any longer the detached observer, occurring in the idealizations of this classical type of theory, but an observer who by his indeterminable effects creates a new situation, theoretically described as a new state of the observed system. In this way every observation is a singling out of a particular factual result, here and now, from the theoretical possibilities, therefore making obvious the discontinuous aspect of physical phenomena.
Nevertheless, there remains still in the new kind of theory an objective reality, inasmuch as these theories deny any possibility for the observer to influence the result of a measurement, once the experimental arrangement is chosen. Therefore particular qualities of an individual observer do not enter into the conceptual framework of the theory.

„I gradually came to acknowledge that such fantasies or dreams are neither meaningless nor purely arbitrary but rather convey a sort of "second meaning" of the terms applied.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

After having dreams about physical terms, which he initially dismissed as a "misuse of physics terminology" by the unconscious, in a letter to Carl Jung (16 June 1948)
Context: Later, however, I came to recognize the objective nature of these dreams or fantasies … Thus it was that I gradually came to acknowledge that such fantasies or dreams are neither meaningless nor purely arbitrary but rather convey a sort of "second meaning" of the terms applied.

„How can one look happy when he is thinking about the anomalous Zeeman effect?“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Writings on Physics and Philosophy (1994), p. 15
Context: A colleague who met me strolling rather aimlessly in the beautiful streets of Copenhagen said to me in a friendly manner, “You look very unhappy”; whereupon I answered fiercely, “How can one look happy when he is thinking about the anomalous Zeeman effect?”.

„When that amusing "Pauli effect" of the overturned vase occurred, on the occasion of the founding of the Jung Institute, I had the immediate and vivid impression that I should "pour out water inside" (— to use the symbolic language that I have acquired from you).“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Letter to Carl Jung (16 June 1948), referring to an incident where a vase fell over, apparently spontaneously as he entered a room, and an essay: Moderne Beispiele zur 'Hintergrunds-physik' (Modern Examples of 'Background Physics' ). Jung and Pauli worked together in developing theories of Synchronicity.
Context: When that amusing "Pauli effect" of the overturned vase occurred, on the occasion of the founding of the Jung Institute, I had the immediate and vivid impression that I should "pour out water inside" (— to use the symbolic language that I have acquired from you). Then when the connection between psychology and physics took up a relatively large part of your talk, it became even more clear to me what I was to do. The outcome of all this is the enclosed essay.

„Einstein has a feeling for the central order of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Statements after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) http://www.edge.org/conversation/science-and-religion by Werner Heisenberg
Context: At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas. The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community, even if its parables and images conveyed no more than the vaguest hint as to their underlying values and ideas. But if he himself is to live by these values, the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society. For "believing" does not to him mean "taking for granted," but rather "trusting in the guidance" of accepted values. That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms. The complete separation of knowledge and faith can at best be an emergency measure, afford some temporary relief. In western culture, for instance, we may well reach the point in the not too distant future where the parables and images of the old religions will have lost their persuasive force even for the average person; when that happens, I am afraid that all the old ethics will collapse like a house of cards and that unimaginable horrors will be perpetrated. In brief, I cannot really endorse Planck's philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
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. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.

„In the new pattern of thought we do not assume any longer the detached observer, occurring in the idealizations of this classical type of theory, but an observer who by his indeterminable effects creates a new situation, theoretically described as a new state of the observed system.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

"Matter" in Man's Right to Knowledge, 2nd series (1954), p. 10; also in Writings on Physics and Philosophy‎ (1994) edited by Charles Paul P. Enz and Karl von Meyenn
Context: In the new pattern of thought we do not assume any longer the detached observer, occurring in the idealizations of this classical type of theory, but an observer who by his indeterminable effects creates a new situation, theoretically described as a new state of the observed system. In this way every observation is a singling out of a particular factual result, here and now, from the theoretical possibilities, therefore making obvious the discontinuous aspect of physical phenomena.
Nevertheless, there remains still in the new kind of theory an objective reality, inasmuch as these theories deny any possibility for the observer to influence the result of a measurement, once the experimental arrangement is chosen. Therefore particular qualities of an individual observer do not enter into the conceptual framework of the theory.

„That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Statements after the Solvay Conference of 1927, as quoted in Physics and Beyond (1971) http://www.edge.org/conversation/science-and-religion by Werner Heisenberg
Context: At the dawn of religion, all the knowledge of a particular community fitted into a spiritual framework, based largely on religious values and ideas. The spiritual framework itself had to be within the grasp of the simplest member of the community, even if its parables and images conveyed no more than the vaguest hint as to their underlying values and ideas. But if he himself is to live by these values, the average man has to be convinced that the spiritual framework embraces the entire wisdom of his society. For "believing" does not to him mean "taking for granted," but rather "trusting in the guidance" of accepted values. That is why society is in such danger whenever fresh knowledge threatens to explode the old spiritual forms. The complete separation of knowledge and faith can at best be an emergency measure, afford some temporary relief. In western culture, for instance, we may well reach the point in the not too distant future where the parables and images of the old religions will have lost their persuasive force even for the average person; when that happens, I am afraid that all the old ethics will collapse like a house of cards and that unimaginable horrors will be perpetrated. In brief, I cannot really endorse Planck's philosophy, even if it is logically valid and even though I respect the human attitudes to which it gives rise.
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. But as far as he is concerned there is no split between science and religion: the central order is part of the subjective as well as the objective realm, and this strikes me as being a far better starting point.

„To achieve such a uniform description of nature, it appears to be essential to have recourse to the archetypal background of the scientific terms and concepts.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Letter to Carl Jung, (16 June 1948)
Context: The purely psychological interpretation only apprehends half of the matter. The other half is the revealing of the archetypal basis of the terms actually applied in modern physics. What the final method of observation must see in the production of "background physics" through the unconscious of modern man is a directing of objective toward a future description of nature that uniformly comprises physis and psyche, a form of description that at the moment we are experiencing only in a prescientific phase. To achieve such a uniform description of nature, it appears to be essential to have recourse to the archetypal background of the scientific terms and concepts.

„This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. [A big drawing of a rectangle] Only technical details are missing.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

In a letter to George Gamow, 1958, commenting on Werner Heisenberg's claim to a journalist that Pauli and Heisenberg have found a unified field theory, "but the technical details were missing"; as quoted in Hyperspace : A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension (1995) by Michio Kaku, p. 137

„There is no God and Dirac is his Prophet.“

—  Wolfgang Pauli

Es gibt keinen Gott und Dirac ist sein Prophet.
A remark made during the Fifth Solvay International Conference (October 1927), after a discussion of the religious views of various physicists, at which all the participants laughed, including Dirac, as quoted in Teil und das Ganze (1969), by Werner Heisenberg, p. 119; it is an ironic play on the Muslim statement of faith, the Shahada, often translated: "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet."
Variant translations and paraphrases:
Well, our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is "God does not exist and Dirac is His prophet."
As quoted in the authorized translation, Physics and Beyond : Encounters and Conversations (1971) by Werner Heisenberg, p. 87
Yes, yes, our friend Dirac has a religion, and its creed runs: "There is no God, and Dirac is his prophet."
As quoted in Jesus, Son of Man (1977) by Rudolf Augstein, p. 325
Our friend Dirac has a religion; and the main tenet of that religion is: There is no God, and Dirac is his prophet.
As quoted in Haphazard Reality : Half a Century of Science (1983), by Hendrik Brugt Gerhard Casimir, p. 151
Yes, our friend Dirac has a religion, and the basic postulate of this religion is: "There is no God, and Dirac is his prophet."
As quoted in Dirac : A Scientific Biography (1990) by Helge Kragh, p. 256
Well, well, our friend Dirac has a religion, and its guiding principle is: "There is no God, and Dirac is His prophet.
As quoted in God's Laughter : Man and His Cosmos (1992) by Gerhard Staguhn, p. 159
If I understand Dirac correctly, his meaning is this: there is no God, and Dirac is his Prophet.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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