Pauli Effect

It was a standing joke among Wolfgang Pauli's colleagues that the famed theoretical physicist should be kept as far away from experimental equipment as humanly possible. His mere presence in a laboratory, it was said, would cause something to go wrong: the power would fail, vacuum tubes would suddenly leak, instruments would break or malfunction... Indeed, such was the frequency of Pauli-related incidents that the strange phenomenon came to be known as the 'Pauli Effect'.

One day, some important experimental equipment in Professor James Frank's laboratory at the Physics Institute at the University of Gottingen unexpectedly blew up for no apparent reason. Moreover, Pauli, who was on his way to Denmark, had not even entered the building.

Only later was it discovered that the catastrophe had taken place at the precise moment that the train carrying Pauli from Zurich to Copenhagen had stopped to collect passengers at the Gottingen railroad station.

[In the late 1860s, the Kansas Pacific Railroad often stopped its trains to allow passengers to leave the cars and shoot at passing buffalo.]

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