Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century: A Memorial Volume to Wolfgang Pauli

Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century: A Memorial Volume to Wolfgang Pauli

Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century: A Memorial Volume to Wolfgang Pauli

Theoretical Physics in the Twentieth Century: A Memorial Volume to Wolfgang Pauli

Excerpt

Several years ago, when Pauli was still with us, a volume was planned to celebrate his 60th birthday on 25th April, 1960. Contrary to the usual practice of soliciting original papers from most of his pupils and friends, we had planned to collect a series of articles by some of his close collaborators describing and reviewing the present status of all the fields in physics to which Pauli has contributed. Soon we discovered that this was a formidable task, for there is practically no field in physics on which Pauli's ideas have not left a significant imprint. The literal realization of our plan would have been equivalent to writing a complete Handbook of modern physics. We were consequently obliged to reduce our aims and restrict ourselves to consideration of two particular kinds of articles. The first represents an attempt to summarize briefly the progress made in some of the topics in physics which were closest to Pauli's interests, and the others are reports on the heroic period of physics during the 1930's, when Pauli's own work and constant critical vigilance were decisive in the conception of the basic ideas of quantum mechanics.

Pauli's untimely death occurred during the preparation of this collection, and the birthday volume became a memorial volume. The inadequacy of our plan was painfully apparent against the background of this new obligation. No collection of articles could do justice to the memory of Pauli's work and his impact on modern physics. His memory lives among all physicists. Only further progress in physics carried out in his spirit can ever serve as a true memorial.

This volume was first initiated by Dr. Paul Rosbaud, a close friend of Pauli's, and we present it as a modest testimony to the debt which the world of Physics owes to Wolfgang Pauli.

M. F. V. F. W.

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