137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession

By Arthur I. Miller

“The historical past is attention-grabbing, as are the insights into the personalities of those nice thinkers.”―New Scientist

Is there a bunch on the root of the universe? A primal quantity that every little thing on the earth hinges on? this question exercised many nice minds of the 20th century, between them the groundbreaking physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the well-known psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Their obsession with the ability of definite numbers―including 137, which describes the atom’s fine-structure consistent and has nice Kabbalistic significance―led them to enhance an not going friendship and to embark on a joint mystical quest attaining deep into medieval alchemy, dream interpretation, and the chinese language booklet of adjustments. 137 explores the profound intersection of contemporary technological know-how with the occult, yet exceptionally it's the story of a unprecedented, fruitful friendship among of the best thinkers of our instances. initially released in hardcover as Deciphering the Cosmic Number. sixty six b/w illustrations

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Scientists who've no longer tested Pauli’s tremendous correspondence and writings nonetheless position him within the previous Newtonian straitjacket. yet Pauli used to be alive to the alchemical roots of technology. sleek technological know-how, he believed, had come to a lifeless finish. maybe the capability to wreck via and to advance new insights used to be to take a extensively diverse technique and go back to science’s alchemical roots. even supposing a twentieth-century scientist, Pauli felt an affinity with the 17th century—perfectly average to somebody who, as he did, accredited that there has been, as Jung postulated, a collective subconscious. at the present time a vocal minority of scientists think in paranormal phenomena. For twenty 8 years a laboratory at Princeton college attempted to set up proof for extra-sensory notion (ESP)—using card-guessing methods—as good as facts for telekinesis, the power of the brain to maneuver gadgets. It have been privately funded to the song of ten million funds and closed down in 2007. Its founder, Robert G. Jahn, a pioneer in jet propulsion platforms stated, “it is time. ” He claimed to have proven that attempt topics “thinking excessive” and “thinking low” may well adjust a series of numbers flashed from a random quantity generator—very a little, even if, or 3 flips out of 10000. Pauli and Jung mentioned experiments of this kind. They, too, believed in powers of the brain inexplicable through the good judgment of physics. the 2 males additionally mentioned at nice size the inspiration of realization, thought of through so much scientists at the moment to be sheer nonsense—“off limits. ” at the present time it's a burgeoning box of study utilizing techniques from quantum mechanics, a few of which Pauli had speculated on. greater than two decades in the past i used to be intrigued to find that Pauli and Jung had co-authored a publication entitled the translation of Nature and the Psyche. I tracked it down and browse it with turning out to be fascination. i used to be gripped by means of the recent points of either males it printed. As a physicist I knew approximately Pauli and his contributions to technological know-how and naturally was once good conscious of Jung. however the jointly, the rational Pauli with the iconoclastic Jung? i used to be made up our minds to determine extra approximately their tale. however, a long time handed prior to i ultimately had the opportunity. i started my examine in Zürich the place I studied their letters, housed within the library of the very recognized technological collage, the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule). I visited the parts the place Pauli had lived, the eating places and bars the place he used to head, and the streets he used to stroll, and stood outdoor his domestic in Zollikon, simply open air Zürich. It was once a wide, nondescript, suburban indifferent condo surrounded by way of bushes, no longer the grand condo I had imagined. In Hamburg I walked the streets the place Pauli had lived, labored, and performed. the various bars he frequented within the Sankt Pauli red-light district are nonetheless there and nonetheless hold an identical fringe of violence. At los angeles Salle Pauli on the large nuclear physics study laboratory CERN (Conseil Européenne pour l. a. Recherche Nucléaire), outdoor Geneva, the place Pauli’s library is housed, I appeared via his books, marked in his personal handwriting along with his code for very important passages, either books he learn sooner than assembly Jung and through the time he knew him.

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