Friday, 7 January 2011

Today's Book Review

Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung shared an obsession with the number 137. 'When the hard-boiled rationalist…came to consult me for the first time, he was in such a state of panic that not only he but I myself felt the wind blowing over from the lunatic asylum!' - Jung on Pauli. Is there a number at the root of the universe? A primal number that everything in the world hinges on? Physicists, psychologists and mystics throughout history have pondered this question. Some have proposed three as in the Trinty and the three dimensions; some have suggested four as in the seasons, directions and number of limbs. Or is the answer 137, which describes the fine-structure constant of the atom and also happens to be the sum of the Hebrew letters of the word Kabbalah? The groundbreaking physicist Pauli and famous psychoanalyst Jung both made enormous and lasting contributions to their fields. Pauli predicted the existence of the neutrino in the 1930s, many decades before it was actually discovered, and Jung codified his own occult dream analysis into his theory of a collective unconscious. In their many letters and meetings, the two men went much further. The two men's discussions lead into 'the no-man's land between Physics and the Psychology of the Unconscious.' A lavishly illustrated dual biography which tells the story of these mavericks in search of the cosmic number, a quest that led them deep into the works of medieval alchemists, dream interpretation, Kepler and even the I Ching. 336pp plus eight pages of b/w photos. US first edition written by a British academic.

Published Price: £18.99

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