Pauli’s Exclusion Principle

6 Apr, 2017 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958), whose Exclusion Principle is one of the key ideas in quantum mechanics. A brilliant physicist, at 21 Pauli wrote a review of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and that review is still a standard work of reference today. The Pauli Exclusion Principle proposes that no two electrons in an atom can be at the same time in the same state or configuration, and it helps explain a wide range of phenomena such as the electron shell structure of atoms. Pauli went on to postulate the existence of the neutrino, which was confirmed in his lifetime. Following further development of his exclusion principle, Pauli was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945 for his ‘decisive contribution through his discovery of a new law of Nature’. He also had a long correspondence with Jung, and a reputation for accidentally breaking experimental equipment which was dubbed The Pauli Effect.

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  • Frank Close 15 episodes
    Fellow Emeritus at Exeter College, University of Oxford
  • Michela Massimi 4 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Edinburgh
  • Graham Farmelo 2 episodes
    Bye-Fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Reading list

  • Michela Massimi at the University of Edinburgh
  • Graham Farmelo at the University of Cambridge
  • Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, 1900-1958: Biographical Memoirs
    edited by Rudolf Peierls (Royal Society ) Google Books →
  • Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and the Acausal Connecting Principle: A Case Study in Transdisciplinarity
    by Charlene P. E. Burns (Metanexus )
  • This Month in Physics History: January 1925: Wolfgang Pauli announces the exclusion principle
    (American Physical Society )
  • Looking at Physics History: July 21, 2000: Fermilab announces first direct evidence for tau neutrino
    (American Physical Society )
  • Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines: Discovery of the neutrino
    (American Physical Society )
  • What is a neutrino?
    by Aksel L. Hallin (Scientific American )
  • Wolfgang Pauli biography
    ( )
  • Why two geniuses delved into the occult
    by Amanda Gefter (New Scientist )
  • Pauli Exclusion Principle
    (Wikipedia )
  • Neutrino
    Frank Close (Oxford University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Frank Close (Oxford University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • No Time to be Brief: A Scientific Biography of Wolfgang Pauli
    Charles P. Enz (Oxford University Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century: A Memorial Volume to Wolfgang Pauli
    M. Fierz and V. F. Weisskopf (eds.) (Interscience Publishers, 1960) Google Books →
  • Collected Scientific Papers by Wolfgang Pauli, Vols. I-II
    R. Kronig and V. F. Weisskopf (eds.) (Wiley Interscience, 1964) Google Books →
  • Les Prix Nobel en 1946
    O. Lindberg, A. E. Lindh and H. Alfeven (Norstedt & Soner )
  • Pauli's Exclusion Principle: The Origin and Validation of a Scientific Principle
    Michela Massimi (Cambridge University Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • Atom and Archetype
    C. A. Meier (Princeton University Press, 2000)
  • Deciphering the Cosmic Number
    Arthur I. Miller (WW Norton, 2009) Google Books →
  • 137: Jung, Pauli and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession
    Arthur I. Miller (W. Norton, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Genius of Science
    Abraham Pais (Princeton University Press, 2000) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1925, Wolfgang Pauli made a decisive contribution to atomic theory through his discovery of a new and fundamental law of nature, the exclusion principle, or as it became known, the Pauli principle.