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Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jungby Arthur I. Miller
Synopses & Reviews
In 1932, the groundbreaking physicist Wolfgang Pauli met the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Pauli was fascinated by the inner reaches of his own psyche and not afraid to dabble in the occult, while Jung looked to science for answers to the psychological questions that tormented him. Their rich friendship led them, in Jung's words, into "the no-man's land between physics and the psychology of the unconscious . . . the most fascinating yet the darkest hunting ground of our times." Both were obsessed with the far-reaching significance of the number "137"--a primal number that seemed to hint at the origins of the universe itself. Their quest to solve its enigma led them on a lifelong journey into the ancient secrets of alchemy, the work of Johannes Kepler, and the Chinese Book of Changes. This is the captivating story of an extraordinary and fruitful collaboration between two of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
'The history is fascinating, as are the insights into the personalities of these great thinkers."New Scientist
The extraordinary story of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli and their struggle to quantify the unconscious.
Evaluates the unusual camaraderie between the ground-breaking physicist and the famous psychoanalyst, tracing their disparate and complementary approaches to the effort to quantify the unconscious, their shared obsession with the primal number 137, and their investigations into the ancient secrets of alchemy.
Is 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. 137explores 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.
About 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.
Table of Contents
1. Dangerously Famous — 2. Early Successes, Early Failures — 3. The Philosopher's Stone — 4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — 5. Intermezzo - Three versus Four: Alchemy, Mysticism, and the Dawn of Modern Science — 6. Pauli, Heisenberg, and the Great Quantum Breakthrough — 7. Mephistopheles — 8. The Dark Hunting Ground of the Mind — 9. Mandalas — 10. The Superior Man Sets His Life in Order — 11. Synchronicity — 12. Dreams of Primal Numbers — 13. Second Intermezzo - Road to Yesterday — 14. Through the Looking Glass — 15. The Mysterious Number 137 — Epilogue: The Legacy of Pauli and Jung.
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