Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jungby Arthur I. Miller
“The history is fascinating, as are the insights into the personalities of these great thinkers.”—New ScientistIs there a number at the root of the universe? A primal number that everything in the world hinges on? This question exercised many great minds of the twentieth century, among them the groundbreaking physicist Wolfgang Pauli/p>/em>
“The history is fascinating, as are the insights into the personalities of these great thinkers.”—New ScientistIs there a number at the root of the universe? A primal number that everything in the world hinges on? This question exercised many great minds of the twentieth century, among them the groundbreaking physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Their obsession with the power of certain numbers—including 137, which describes the atom’s fine-structure constant and has great Kabbalistic significance—led them to develop an unlikely friendship and to embark on a joint mystical quest reaching deep into medieval alchemy, dream interpretation, and the Chinese Book of Changes. 137 explores the profound intersection of modern science with the occult, but above all it is the tale of an extraordinary, fruitful friendship between two of the greatest thinkers of our times. Originally published in hardcover as Deciphering the Cosmic Number.
Miller (Einstein, Picasso), professor emeritus of history and philosophy of science at University College London, has written a difficult but rewarding account of the intersection of two great minds. Pauli and Jung, groundbreaking thinkers in physics and psychoanalysis respectively, had extensive interaction, beginning in 1932 when the deeply troubled Pauli went to Jung for treatment. The two men shared an interest in alchemy, astrology, the concept of synchronicity and a search for the single number they believed lay at the heart of the universe. Both were convinced a viable intersection of their two fields existed. Although Jung published analyses of hundreds of Pauli's dreams and the two coauthored a volume on nature and the psyche, Miller makes a weak case that those works significantly enriched physics or psychology. Miller spends more time with Pauli than Jung, and the complex mathematics of his physics leaves the reader a bit at sea. In the end, readers do gain insight into Pauli's personality, making Miller's tale illuminating on a human more than a scientific level. Illus. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Meet the Author
Arthur I. Miller is a professor emeritus at University College London. He has published many critically acclaimed books, including Einstein, Picasso; Empire of the Stars; and 137. He lives in London.
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