Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wolfgang Pauli

So, there's this character in my novel who is a scientist. A physicist, to be exact, though she is in love with her organic chemistry professor...but I digress. She's still in college, but she's a true scholar of physics...which is so, so, so not me that it can be hard to make her sound legit. I took Physics for Poets at Vandy and barely got a B.

She's reading up about Wolfgang Pauli's exclusion principle. I would prefer to have her reading Pauli directly, but since I'm not sure that the man ever actually wrote a book about his Nobel-winning principle, I figure it's safer to have her reading about him. Because that someone has to have covered.

I picked Pauli and his exclusion principle out of a web-page full of scientists and their discoveries because I think his could tie thematically in with my book. (Remember? There are no accidents?)

So I've read the exclusion principle definition about five times, ignoring those scary equations, and this is what I understand: he explained why things don't sink into things, but light and radiation can pass through. Like, we can stand on the ground and not be squished together, because we are separate because of the quantum way all those protons/neutrons/electrons move, but light and radiation can pass through because they're different. I don't know why, exactly, but something to do with atomic structure, perhaps. But anyway, that's what he did.

I could have referred to my bookmarked wilkipedia definition, but that right up there is honestly what I retained after five re-reads.

She had to be a physicist.

And what do physicists do, precisely? Things in labs? Because she wants to go to graduate school for physics and bless my little humanities heart, but I have no idea what she might do there--besides wear a lab coat and hold test tubes.


Anonymous said...

My wife is a genius.

(y'all need to leave comments when you read her blog. it makes her happy.)

Big Nick said...

i wish you'd allow picture comment posts.

Anonymous said...

hey there-- I promise you that I had not intention of "outing" lurkers when I wrote that post this morning. I am very much a lurker at most sites I visit and very rarely comment, if ever.

Still, it's very cool to see your blog--- my niece just finished her degree in physics and although it's all over my head, I love the concepts of string theory and quantum physics.

have you checked out Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr. Y? don't know if you would find it inspiring/supportive, or not-- but it came to mind as I read your post.

All the best, bluepoppy