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Erwin Schrödinger

Erwin Schrödinger

Overview
Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (ˈɛʁviːn ˈʃʁøːdɪŋɐ, ˈʃroʊdɪŋər ; 12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961) was an Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 and theoretical biologist who was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

, and is famed for a number of important contributions to physics, especially the Schrödinger equation
Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation was formulated in 1926 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Used in physics , it is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time....

, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1933. In 1935 he proposed the Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The scenario presents a cat that might be...

 thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

.

In 1887 Schrödinger was born in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria to Rudolf Schrödinger (cerecloth producer, botanist) and Georgine Emilia Brenda (daughter of Alexander Bauer, Professor of Chemistry, k.u.k.
K.u.k.
The German phrase kaiserlich und königlich , typically abbreviated as k. u. k., k. und k. , or k. & k., refers to the Court of the Habsburgs in a broader historical perspective . Some modern authors restrict its use to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary from 1867 to 1918...

 Technische Hochschule Vienna
Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology is one of the major universities in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Founded in 1815 as the "Imperial-Royal Polytechnic Institute" , it currently has about 26,200 students , 8 faculties and about 4,000 staff members...

).

His mother was half Austrian and half English; the English side of her family came from Leamington Spa
Leamington Spa
Royal Leamington Spa, commonly known as Leamington Spa or Leamington or Leam to locals, is a spa town in central Warwickshire, England. Formerly known as Leamington Priors, its expansion began following the popularisation of the medicinal qualities of its water by Dr Kerr in 1784, and by Dr Lambe...

.
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Encyclopedia
Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (ˈɛʁviːn ˈʃʁøːdɪŋɐ, ˈʃroʊdɪŋər ; 12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961) was an Austrian
Austrians
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 and theoretical biologist who was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

, and is famed for a number of important contributions to physics, especially the Schrödinger equation
Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation was formulated in 1926 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Used in physics , it is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time....

, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1933. In 1935 he proposed the Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The scenario presents a cat that might be...

 thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

.

Early years


In 1887 Schrödinger was born in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria to Rudolf Schrödinger (cerecloth producer, botanist) and Georgine Emilia Brenda (daughter of Alexander Bauer, Professor of Chemistry, k.u.k.
K.u.k.
The German phrase kaiserlich und königlich , typically abbreviated as k. u. k., k. und k. , or k. & k., refers to the Court of the Habsburgs in a broader historical perspective . Some modern authors restrict its use to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary from 1867 to 1918...

 Technische Hochschule Vienna
Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology is one of the major universities in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Founded in 1815 as the "Imperial-Royal Polytechnic Institute" , it currently has about 26,200 students , 8 faculties and about 4,000 staff members...

).

His mother was half Austrian and half English; the English side of her family came from Leamington Spa
Leamington Spa
Royal Leamington Spa, commonly known as Leamington Spa or Leamington or Leam to locals, is a spa town in central Warwickshire, England. Formerly known as Leamington Priors, its expansion began following the popularisation of the medicinal qualities of its water by Dr Kerr in 1784, and by Dr Lambe...

. Schrödinger learned English and German almost at the same time because both were spoken in the family household. His father was a Catholic and his mother was a Lutheran.

In 1898 he attended the Akademisches Gymnasium. Between 1906 and 1910 Schrödinger studied in Vienna under Franz Serafin Exner
Franz S. Exner
Franz Serafin Exner was an Austrian physicist.-Life:Exner comes from one of the most important university families of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. The same Exner family includes Adolf Exner, Karl Exner, Sigmund Exner, and Marie von Frisch. Exner the youngest of five children of parents Franz...

 (1849–1926) and Friedrich Hasenöhrl
Friedrich Hasenöhrl
Friedrich Hasenöhrl , was an Austro-Hungarian physicist.-Life:Friedrich Hasenöhrl was born in Vienna, Austria in 1874. His father was a lawyer and his mother belonged to a prominent aristocratic family...

 (1874–1915). He also conducted experimental work with Karl Wilhelm Friedrich ("Fritz") Kohlrausch (1884–1953). In 1911 Schrödinger became an assistant to Exner. At an early age, Schrödinger was strongly influenced by Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

. As a result of his extensive reading of Schopenhauer's works, he became deeply interested throughout his life in color theory, philosophy, perception, and eastern religion, especially Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

.

Middle years


In 1914 Erwin Schrödinger achieved Habilitation
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

 (venia legendi). Between 1914 and 1918 he participated in war work as a commissioned officer in the Austrian fortress artillery (Gorizia
Gorizia
Gorizia is a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia. It is the capital of the Province of Gorizia, and it is a local center of tourism, industry, and commerce. Since 1947, a twin...

, Duino
Duino
Duino is a town at the Adriatic coast in the municipality of Duino-Aurisina, part of the region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia in the province of Trieste, north-eastern Italy....

, Sistiana
Sistiana
Sistiana is a village in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the far northeast of Italy near the Slovene border. It is a frazione of the comune of Duino-Aurisina.-Geography:...

, Prosecco, Vienna). On 6 April 1920, Schrödinger married Annemarie Bertel. The same year, he became the assistant to Max Wien
Max Wien
Max Wien was a German physicist and the director of the Institute of Physics at the University of Jena. He was born in Königsberg, Prussia.Wien studied under Helmholtz and Kundt. He invented the "Löschfunkensender" during the years 1906 to 1909 and the Wien bridge in 1891...

, in Jena
Jena
Jena is a university city in central Germany on the river Saale. It has a population of approx. 103,000 and is the second largest city in the federal state of Thuringia, after Erfurt.-History:Jena was first mentioned in an 1182 document...

, and in September 1920 he attained the position of ao. Prof. (Ausserordentlicher Professor), roughly equivalent to Reader (UK) or associate professor (US), in Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. In 1921, he became o. Prof. (Ordentlicher Professor, i.e. full professor), in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland).

In 1921, he moved to the University of Zürich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

. In January 1926, Schrödinger published in Annalen der Physik
Annalen der Physik
Annalen der Physik is one of the oldest physics journals worldwide. The journal publishes original, peer-reviewed papers in the areas of experimental, theoretical, applied and mathematical physics and related areas...

the paper "Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem" [tr. Quantization as an Eigenvalue Problem] on wave mechanics and what is now known as the Schrödinger equation
Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation was formulated in 1926 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Used in physics , it is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time....

. In this paper he gave a "derivation" of the wave equation for time independent systems, and showed that it gave the correct energy eigenvalues for the hydrogen-like atom
Hydrogen-like atom
A hydrogen-like ion is any atomic nucleus with one electron and thus is isoelectronic with hydrogen. Except for the hydrogen atom itself , these ions carry the positive charge e, where Z is the atomic number of the atom. Examples of hydrogen-like ions are He+, Li2+, Be3+ and B4+...

. This paper has been universally celebrated as one of the most important achievements of the twentieth century, and created a revolution in quantum mechanics, and indeed of all physics and chemistry. A second paper was submitted just four weeks later that solved the quantum harmonic oscillator
Quantum harmonic oscillator
The quantum harmonic oscillator is the quantum-mechanical analog of the classical harmonic oscillator. Because an arbitrary potential can be approximated as a harmonic potential at the vicinity of a stable equilibrium point, it is one of the most important model systems in quantum mechanics...

, the rigid rotor
Rigid rotor
The rigid rotor is a mechanical model that is used to explain rotating systems.An arbitrary rigid rotor is a 3-dimensional rigid object, such as a top. To orient such an object in space three angles are required. A special rigid rotor is the linear rotor which isa 2-dimensional object, requiring...

 and the diatomic molecule, and gives a new derivation of the Schrödinger equation. A third paper in May showed the equivalence of his approach to that of Heisenberg and gave the treatment of the Stark effect
Stark effect
The Stark effect is the shifting and splitting of spectral lines of atoms and molecules due to presence of an external static electric field. The amount of splitting and or shifting is called the Stark splitting or Stark shift. In general one distinguishes first- and second-order Stark effects...

. A fourth paper in this most remarkable series showed how to treat problems in which the system changes with time, as in scattering
Scattering
Scattering is a general physical process where some forms of radiation, such as light, sound, or moving particles, are forced to deviate from a straight trajectory by one or more localized non-uniformities in the medium through which they pass. In conventional use, this also includes deviation of...

 problems. These papers were the central achievement of his career and were at once recognized as having great significance by the physics community.

In 1927, he succeeded Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

 at the Friedrich Wilhelm University
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 in Berlin. In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazis' anti-semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

 at the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 together with Paul Dirac
Paul Dirac
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, OM, FRS was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics...

. His position at Oxford did not work out; his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women) was not met with acceptance. In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

; he was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have posed a problem. He had the prospect of a position at the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 but visa delays occurred, and in the end he took up a position at the University of Graz
University of Graz
The University of Graz , a university located in Graz, Austria, is the second-largest and second-oldest university in Austria....

 in Austria in 1936.

In the midst of these tenure issues in 1935, after extensive correspondence with Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

, he proposed what is now called the Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The scenario presents a cat that might be...

 thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

.


Later years


In 1939, after the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

, Schrödinger had problems because of his flight from Germany in 1933 and his known opposition to Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

. He issued a statement recanting this opposition (he later regretted doing so, and he personally apologized to Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

). However, this did not fully appease the new dispensation and the university dismissed him from his job for political unreliability. He suffered harassment and received instructions not to leave the country, but he and his wife fled to Italy. From there he went to visiting positions in Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 and Ghent
Ghent University
Ghent University is a Dutch-speaking public university located in Ghent, Belgium. It is one of the larger Flemish universities, consisting of 32,000 students and 7,100 staff members. The current rector is Paul Van Cauwenberge.It was established in 1817 by King William I of the Netherlands...

 Universities.

In 1940 he received a personal invitation from Ireland's Taoiseach
Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 to reside in Ireland and agree to help establish an Institute for Advanced Studies
Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies Dublin, Ireland was established in 1940 by the Taoiseach of the time, Éamon de Valera under the . The Institute consists of 3 schools: The , the and the . The directors of these schools are currently Professor Werner Nahm, Professor Luke Drury and...

 in Dublin. He moved to Clontarf, Dublin
Clontarf, Dublin
Clontarf is a coastal suburb on the northside of Dublin, in Ireland. It is most famous for giving the name to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, in which Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, defeated the Vikings of Dublin and their allies, the Irish of Leinster. This battle, which extended to districts...

 and became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics and remained there for 17 years, during which time he became a naturalized Irish citizen. He wrote about 50 further publications on various topics, including his explorations of unified field theory
Classical unified field theories
Since the 19th century, some physicists have attempted to develop a single theoretical framework that can account for the fundamental forces of nature – a unified field theory. Classical unified field theories are attempts to create a unified field theory based on classical physics...

.

In 1944, he wrote What is Life?
What is life?
What is Life and similar may refer to:* "What is Life", a song by George Harrison* What Is Life?, a book by Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger, in which he tries to answer the question in physical/chemical terms...

, which contains a discussion of negentropy
Negentropy
The negentropy, also negative entropy or syntropy, of a living system is the entropy that it exports to keep its own entropy low; it lies at the intersection of entropy and life...

 and the concept of a complex molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

 with the genetic code for living organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

s. According to James D. Watson
James D. Watson
James Dewey Watson is an American molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA in 1953 with Francis Crick...

's memoir, DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

, the Secret of Life
, Schrödinger's book gave Watson the inspiration to research the gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

, which led to the discovery of the DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 double helix structure. Similarly, Francis Crick
Francis Crick
Francis Harry Compton Crick OM FRS was an English molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, and most noted for being one of two co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, together with James D. Watson...

, in his autobiographical book What Mad Pursuit, described how he was influenced by Schrödinger's speculations about how genetic information might be stored in molecules. However, the geneticist and 1946 Nobel-prize winner H.J. Muller had in his 1922 article "Variation due to Change in the Individual Gene" already laid out all the basic properties of the heredity molecule that Schrödinger derives from first principles in What is Life?, properties which Muller refined in his 1929 article "The Gene As The Basis of Life" and further clarified during the 1930s, long before the publication of What is Life?.

Schrödinger stayed in Dublin until retiring in 1955. During this time he remained committed to his particular passion; involvements with students occurred and he fathered two children by two different Irish women. He had a life-long interest in the Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 philosophy of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, which influenced his speculations at the close of What is Life? about the possibility that individual consciousness
Consciousness
Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind...

 is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

.

In 1956, he returned to Vienna (chair ad personam). At an important lecture during the World Energy Conference he refused to speak on nuclear energy because of his skepticism about it and gave a philosophical lecture instead. During this period Schrödinger turned from mainstream quantum mechanics' definition of wave-particle duality and promoted the wave idea alone causing much controversy.

Personal life


Schrödinger suffered from tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 and several times in the 1920s stayed at a sanatorium in Arosa
Arosa
Arosa is a town and a municipality in the district of Plessur in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It is both a summer and a winter tourist resort.-History:...

. It was there that he discovered his wave equation.

Schrödinger decided in 1933 that he could not live in a country in which persecution of Jews had become a national policy. Alexander Frederick Lindemann
Frederick Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell
Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell FRS PC CH was an English physicist who was an influential scientific adviser to the British government, particularly Winston Churchill...

, the head of physics at Oxford University
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, visited Germany in the spring of 1933 to try to arrange positions in England for some young Jewish scientists from Germany. He spoke to Schrödinger about posts for one of his assistants and was surprised to discover that Schrödinger himself was interested in leaving Germany. Schrödinger asked for a colleague, Arthur March, to be offered a post as his assistant.

The request for March stemmed from Schrödinger's unconventional relationships with women: although his relations with his wife Anny were good, he had had many lovers with his wife's full knowledge (and in fact, Anny had her own lover, Hermann Weyl
Hermann Weyl
Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl was a German mathematician and theoretical physicist. Although much of his working life was spent in Zürich, Switzerland and then Princeton, he is associated with the University of Göttingen tradition of mathematics, represented by David Hilbert and Hermann Minkowski.His...

). Schrödinger asked for March to be his assistant because, at that time, he was in love with March's wife Hilde.

Many of the scientists who had left Germany spent mid-1933 in the Italian province of South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

. Here Hilde became pregnant with Schrödinger's child. On 4 November 1933 Schrödinger, his wife and Hilde March arrived in Oxford. Schrödinger had been elected a fellow of Magdalen College
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

. Soon after they arrived in Oxford, Schrödinger heard that, for his work on wave mechanics
Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation was formulated in 1926 by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Used in physics , it is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time....

, he had been awarded the Nobel prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

.

In early 1934 Schrödinger was invited to lecture at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 and while there he was made an offer of a permanent position. On his return to Oxford he negotiated about salary and pension conditions at Princeton but in the end he did not accept. It is thought that the fact that he wished to live at Princeton with Anny and Hilde both sharing the upbringing of his child was not found acceptable. The fact that Schrödinger openly had two wives, even if one of them was married to another man, was not well received in Oxford either. Nevertheless, his daughter Ruth Georgie Erica was born there on 30 May 1934.


On 4 January 1961, Schrödinger died in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 at the age of 73 of tuberculosis. He left a widow, Anny (born Annemarie Bertel on 3 December 1896, died 3 October 1965), and was buried in Alpbach
Alpbach
Alpbach is a village in Western Austria in the state of Tyrol. Its geographical location is , at 975 m above sea level. Alpbach had a population of 2,549 in 2003....

, Austria.

Legacy


The philosophical issues raised by Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat
Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The scenario presents a cat that might be...

 are still debated today and remains his most enduring legacy in popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

, while Schrödinger's equation is his most enduring legacy at a more technical level. The huge crater Schrödinger
Schrödinger (crater)
Schrödinger is a huge lunar impact crater of the form traditionally called a walled plain and is named after Erwin Schrödinger. It is located near the south lunar pole on the far side of the Moon, and can only be viewed from orbit. The smaller crater Ganswindt is attached to the southwestern rim of...

, on the far side of the Moon, is named after him. The Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics
Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics
The Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics is a research institute located in Vienna, Austria, whose aim is to stimulate cross fertilization between mathematics and physics...

 was established in Vienna in 1993.

Color


One of Schrödinger's lesser-known areas of scientific contribution was his work on color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

, color perception, and colorimetry
Colorimetry
Colorimetry is "the science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception."It is similar to spectrophotometry, but is distinguished by its interest in reducing spectra to the physical correlates of color perception, most often the CIE 1931 XYZ color space...

 (Farbenmetrik). In 1920, he published three papers in this area:
  • "Theorie der Pigmente von größter Leuchtkraft," Annalen der Physik, (4), 62, (1920), 603-622
  • "Grundlinien einer Theorie der Farbenmetrik im Tagessehen," Annalen der Physik, (4), 63, (1920), 397-426; 427-456; 481-520 (Outline of a theory of color measurement for daylight vision)
  • "Farbenmetrik," Zeitschrift für Physik, 1, (1920), 459-466 (Color measurement).


The second of these is available in English as "Outline of a Theory of Color Measurement for Daylight Vision" in Sources of Color Science, Ed. David L. MacAdam, The MIT Press (1970), 134-182.

See also

  • Entropy and life
    Entropy and life
    Research concerning the relationship between the thermodynamic quantity entropy and the evolution of life began in around the turn of the 20th century...

  • List of Austrian scientists
  • List of Austrians
  • Quantum Aspects of Life
    Quantum Aspects of Life
    Quantum Aspects of Life is a 2008 science text, with a foreword by Sir Roger Penrose, which notably explores the open question of the role of quantum mechanics at molecular scales of relevance to biology. The book adopts a debate-like style and contains chapters written by various world-experts;...

  • Subject-object problem
    Subject-object problem
    The subject–object problem, a longstanding philosophical issue, is concerned with the analysis of human experience, and of what within experience is "subjective" and what is "objective."...


External links