A famous photograph

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“I'm getting fat. Eat like a pig and smile while I talk is all I'm expected to do these days.”
“I know what you mean, Wolf. I'm constantly going to receptions and banquets. I'm not allowed to say no. But you should try these crepes. Not bad for being Swedish.”
Pauli didn't need further encouragement from his friend Bohr to grab one of the crepes. The reception at the inauguration of the Institute of Physics in Lund was well attended but the couple knew that as long as they talked with a serious face, nobody was going to dare to interrupt. The famous guests of honor could be deriving a new law of physics, as far as anybody knew.
“I used to be in very good shape. Did I tell you I was an athlete when I was young?”
“Yes, you told me the story, Neils. You were a goalkeeper for a professional football team. The King even greeted you as a famous football player when you became a Professor at the University of Copenhagen.”
“But the real good player was my brother Harald, the mathematician. He played in the Olympics for Denmark.”
“That's foreign to me. I never played any sport.”
“None, Wolfgang?”
“Well, except if you count peg tops. I was the neighborhood champion. Really boss.”
“Is that so? Harald and myself played a lot of top battles when we were kids.”
“I would have crushed you, Neil. I once split two tops in a row.”
“That's very impressive! I don't remember any top completely splitting. I thought it was just a playground legend.”
“I must've split more than a hundred,” said Pauli proudly.
“One hundred thirty seven, perhaps?” Bohr smiled.
“Ha, ha! That would have been a nice number.”
They could not refrain from laughing, even though the action could incite others to come over.
“See, you were splitting Bose tops into Fermi tops.”
“Ganz Falsch!”
“Perhaps that early experience foreshadowed your discovery of the quantum number for the spin of electrons.”
“Mmm. When it came up in my dreams, Doctor Jung did not give it much importance.”
Bohr arched his left eyebrow. Psychotherapy was not his cup of tea. He tried to stir the conversation in another direction.
“Believe it or not, the reason I didn't leave physics to become a football player were spinning tops.”
“Really?”
“It was my first year of college and I had become frustrated with physics. Perhaps I was trying to absorb too much too fast. Or perhaps it had to do with the girls. They understood a football player better than a physicist.”
“Getting involved with women is bad for physics. I know from experience.”
“Ahem. Anyway, I went to Professor Christiansen's office ready to tell him I was not going to take his class the following semester after all. But before I could say anything, he got this out of his pocket.”
Bohr searched the right pocket of this dark suit coat and clumsily brought out a little finger top which his big hand made look even smaller.
“A wendekreisel!” Pauli recognized it.
“Yes, a tippe top. I had never seen one before that day. When he spun it on the table and it flipped over all on its own, I was amazed. And then the professor told me, 'It seems impossible doesn't it? Especially if you know a little physics. But of course, physics will explain it if you look hard enough.' At that moment I decided that I HAD to know. Knowing how things work is my thing.”
“How interesting! And you even kept that top all these years. Incredible!”
“Yeah, it's kind of like my physics charm.”
“You know, I've never seen one flip over in person.”
“What? Really? Let's try it right now. This tile floor should be fine.”
“I bet it doesn't work. Have you heard of the Pauli effect?”
“Don't worry, I was an experimental physicist before becoming a theoretical one.”
“The Pauli effect has sabotaged the best experiments.”
Bohr just smiled, bent down, and snapped his fingers, sending the top spinning on the floor. Pauli crouched to watch the top up close.
Just then a camera flash went off.
“Damn, Neils! This pose of us will stay recorded for posterity.”
“Oh, what the hey! We're still kids inside, aren't we, Wolf?”
“Yes, quite right.”
 
(http://photos.aip.org/history/Thumbnails/pauli_wolfgang_c4.jpg)

About the Author: 
The famous photograph of Bohr and Pauli bending over a tippe top inspired me for this story. It is in the AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives: http://photos.aip.org/history/Thumbnails/pauli_wolfgang_c4.jpg By the way, Bohr and his brother were indeed football players. Carl Jung did interpret Pauli's dreams.

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H is for ... Hawking Radiation

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S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

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A is for ... Act of observation

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C is for ... Computing

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A is for ... Alice and Bob

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M is for ... Multiverse

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O is for ... Objective reality

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G is for ... Gravity

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R is for ... Randomness

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Z is for ... Zero-point energy

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E is for ... Entanglement

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I is for ... Interferometer

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U is for ... Universe

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X is for ... X-ray

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C is for ... Cryptography

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