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Pauli Exclusion Principle

New Page -- 22 February 2004

One expression of the Pauli Exclusion Principle is that “no two electrons in the same atom can be in the same quantum state.” [1] This means that no two electrons can have the same set of quantum states of: 1) energy, 2) angular momentum magnitude, 3) angular momentum orientation, and 4) orientation of intrinsic spin.

Pauli's Principle is based on the fact that any two given electrons are indistinguishable from one another and thus changing the designations between two or more electrons in different quantum states should have no observable effect. Furthermore, in describing the wave function of an atom -- which is the product of the wave functions of the individual electrons -- Quantum Physics mandates that the wave function itself (of the atom or electron) is also not observable. On the other hand, the squared magnitude of the atom's wave function is observable, i.e. capable of being experimentally measured. Inasmuch as taking a square root of the squared magnitude of any given wave function will yield a plus (+) or minus (-) sign, the wave function of an atom or elementary particle can either be symmetric with respect to exchanging the designations of two of its constituent parts (the + sign), or anti-symmetric (the - sign).

The Pauli Exclusion Principle then specifies the wave functions of electrons, protons and other so-called spin-1/2 particles to be anti-symmetric. Thus when two electron designations are switched in the same atom or molecule, the total wave function of the atom or molecule changes sign.

This apparently esoteric principle is the very basis for the existence of the Periodic Table of the Elements. The Pauli Exclusion Principle allows for the distinction between different elements. Furthermore, the Principle also effects the way molecules form in the bonding of atoms, for the way molecules interact to form gases, liquids, or solids, and/or how the molecules aggregate themselves in living organisms. In effect, the Pauli Exclusion Principle “is the basis for the observable order of the universe, including the existence of life.” [1] Margenau has said:“Pauli's Exclusion Principle accounts for atomic structure. Without this structure, every atom would collapse into a positive nucleus surrounded by an unorganized mass of negative charges.” [2]

Perhaps, even more significantly, Pauli's Exclusion Principle is not enforced by any physical force understood by mainstream science. “When an electron enters an ion, somehow it knows the quantum numbers of the electrons which are there, and somehow it knows which atomic orbitals it may enter, and which not.” [1] This is nothing short of incredible!! It implies consciousness or connectedness between any and all elementary particles, and by a method totally unknown to the mainstream purveyors of quantum physics.

In effect, an electron avoids occupied orbitals -- in much the same way most motorists might avoid parking in occupied parking spaces -- but this avoidance is not due to electrostatic repulsion or some mechanical property. The avoidance is due instead to the anti-symmetry requirement of the wave function of this spin-1/2 particle. Schäfer thinks of this as “another manifestation of the mind-like aspects of physical reality, similar to the power of information to affect observable physical states.” [1]

Furthermore, when two atoms come within close proximity to one another, the concept of each being in a separate state loses its meaning. Thus two atoms with closed shells find they cannot form a chemical bond because the electrons in one atom find no available quantum states in the other in which to occupy. In effect, even though the atomic nuclei in molecules are surrounded by what is essentially empty space, the atoms cannot be forced together because the symmetry of the quantum wave functions forbid it. And the electrons know it! The electrons know what the other electrons are doing, and what quantum states they are in. And such knowing implies consciousness on the parts of elementary particles.

This potential for mindfulness becomes even more pronounced when we encounter the EPR Paradox, where in Bohm's formulation two spin-1/2 particles form a “singlet state”, where the angular momenta of the two are counter-aligned in such a way as to cancel each other and yield a total angular momentum of zero.

Not only two atoms which have come in close proximity but any two quantum systems that have once interacted, as they are then separated over long distances they stay connected! Furthermore, the knowingness involved implies an instantaneous means of communication. The knowledge contained in one particle being measured effects a second, previously interacted particle at a distance. Locality is violated. Non-locality reigns and the speed of light is essentially ignored.

The Pauli Exclusion Principle is as fundamental a characteristic of Quantum Physics as there is. Albert Einstein and his colleagues Poldalsky and Rosen attempted in their theoretical EPR Paradox to argue against the very viability of Quantum Physics. Quantum physics is fundamentally based on probabilities, whereas in Einstein's view: “God does not play dice”. The EPR trio then attempted to show that either the Pauli Exclusion Principle was wrong (and thus Quantum Physics had failed in the most basic test of its validity), OR that the Special Relativity requirement that nothing can exceed the speed of light was in error. The latter ingredient of Relativity -- known as locality -- turned out to be loser. The Pauli Exclusion Principle and Quantum Physics were shown experimentally to be the more valid concepts.


Lothar Schäfer
, In Search of Divine Reality; Science as a Source of Inspiration, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1997.

[2] H. Margenau, The MIracle of Existence, Ox Bow Press, Woodbridge, CN, 1984.


Connective Physics         EPR Experiment

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Nonlocality         Bell’s Theorem         Casimir Effect


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