Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pauli Effect

Spin down

My favorite Pauli-effect story has to do with Walter Heitler defending his thesis topic or giving some kind of lecture. After the lecture, Wolfgang Pauli (in typical form) got up on the rostrum and launched into an expansive critique whilst pacing up and down. At some point he was headed towards Heitler, who was by now sitting in a chair at the end of the podium. As Pauli came closer and closer, Heitler leaned further and further back in the chair until he suddenly fell off the end of the stage: at which point some bright spark (possibly George Gamow) called out "Pauli effect!"