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One day, I was bored and went to the library. I took out a journal and started reading the paper of this guy Fröhlich in which he poses the polaron problem. He says it’s very hard and very important, for once it’s solved, we’ll right away understand superconductivity [which at that point was not yet understood]. So I look at this problem and it was obvious to me that I could solve it. I went back to my office, solved the problem and then I sent Mr. Fröhlich a letter showing him my solution and asking him to let me know by reply mail how superconductivity works.

Bhabha” — hardly a very flattering thing to say. Pauli, who much respected the author of this letter, interpreted it to mean that this was a hopeless case. Accordingly, he refused to have any meaningful talk with Bhabha, convinced that it would be a total waste of time. Whenever he noticed Bhabha in the hall, he would shout at him past the many other students hurrying to their classes, “Mr. ” The young man was despondent. It is, though, in Zurich that he wrote his most famous paper on electron–positron scattering, or “Bhabha scattering” as it is now called.

He just couldn’t stomach “naked” letters, be they from the Latin or the Greek alphabet; he liked his letters neatly dressed. From then on I kept sprinkling random hats and twiddles and whatnots on my symbols, but now we could both concentrate on the matter at hand and not on these silly ornaments. Unfortunately, Stueckelberg’s papers are also so adorned and to the uninitiated reader they look forbidding. qxd 7/4/2007 1:50 PM Page 19 FA A True Aristocrat 19 does not quite enjoy mass circulation.

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