Person: Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst
Wolfgang Pauli won a Nobel prize for his work on quantum mechanics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Wolfgang Joseph had trained as a medical doctor in Prague.
- In 1898 he changed his name to Wolfgang Joseph Pauli and, in the following year, converted from Judaism to become a Roman Catholic.
- Wolfgang attended school in Vienna where he began a deep study of mathematics and physics at the Döblingen Gymnasium.
- School work was boring to the brilliant Pauli and he hid Einstein's papers under his school desk and studied them during the lessons.
- Not paying attention in class did not hold Pauli back, for he graduated from the Gymnasium in July 1918 with distinction.
- At Munich, Pauli was taught by Sommerfeld who quickly recognised his genius.
- Sommerfeld asked Pauli to write a review article on relativity for the Encyclopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften when he had only been two years at university, a mark of the high regard in which he held Pauli.
- The respect was mutual, for Pauli showed more respect for Sommerfeld, both as a person and as a scientist, than he did for any other.
- Pauli received his doctorate, which had been supervised by Sommerfeld, in July 1921 for a thesis on the quantum theory of ionised molecular hydrogen.
- Sommerfeld was certainly right to heap much praise on the thesis but it had been a disappointment to Pauli since the theoretical results he had proved did not agree with experimental evidence.
- Two months after the award of his doctorate Pauli's survey of the theory of relativity appeared, by this time having grown into a work of 237 pages.
- Pauli was then appointed to Göttingen as Born's assistant from October 1921.
- In 1924 Pauli proposed a quantum spin number for electrons.
- He is best known for the Pauli exclusion principle , proposed in 1925, which states that no two electrons in an atom can have the same four quantum numbers.
- Pauli, who before that had begun to feel that further advances could not be made with the theory as it then existed, quickly made progress using Heisenberg's new ideas and before the end of 1925 he had derived the hydrogen spectrum from the new theory.
- On 6 May 1929 Pauli left the Roman Catholic Church, but his reasons for this are not entirely clear.
- Despite the personal problems, Pauli's career progressed well.
- The existence and properties of the particle were still not clear to Pauli, however, and it was not until 1933 that he published his prediction in print.
- Pauli's particle was named the neutrino by Fermi in 1934 and at that time he correctly stated that it was not a constituent of the nucleus of an atom.
- This period of scientific discovery by Pauli coincided with a period of increasing personal difficulties for him.
- He was not treated by Jung, rather it was one of his assistants who helped Pauli.
- However, Pauli detailed over 1000 dreams which he sent to Jung over many years and Jung published work based on some of the dreams.
- Pauli clearly believed in psychology as much as he did physics.
- In 1931 Pauli was Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, then in 1935-1936 he was Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
- Pauli worried that fascism might bring about the end of scientific life in Europe.
- Pauli also tried to encourage those scientists who could remain in Italy and Germany to do so, for he believed this might ensure that scientific culture survived after the War.
- Pauli did not remain in the United States but he returned to Zürich after World War II.
- decisive contribution through his discovery in 1925 of a new law of Nature, the exclusion principle or Pauli principle.
- Pauli showed himself that the electronic configuration is made fully intelligible by the exclusion principle, which is therefore essential for the elucidation of the characteristic physical and chemical properties of different elements.
- Among those important phenomena for the explanation of which the Pauli principle is indispensable, we mention the electric conductivity of metals and the magnetic properties of matter.
- The spin proposal, which gave meaning to Pauli's fourth quantum number, was first suggested by Uhlenbeck in 1925.
- Pauli delivered his Nobel Lecture in Stockholm on 13 December in the following year.
- Pauli received many honours for his work in addition to the Nobel Prize.
Born 25 April 1900, Vienna, Austria. Died 15 December 1958, Zürich, Switzerland.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Austria, Prize Nobel, Physics
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive