Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (August 12, 1887 – January 4, 1961) was an Austrian physicist famous for his contributions to quantum mechanics, especially the Schrödinger equation, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1933. He proposed the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, and he had a life-long interest in Vedanta.
In 1887, Schrödinger was born, in Vienna (Erdberg), to Rudolf Schrödinger (cerecloth producer, botanist) and Georgine Emilia Brenda (d. o Alexander Bauer, Professor of Chemistry, k.u.k. Technische Hochschule Vienna). In 1898, he attended the Akademisches Gymnasium. Between 1906-10, Schrödinger studied in Vienna with Franz Serafin Exner (1849 - 1926) and Fritz Hasenöhrl (1874 - 1915). He also conducted experimental work in Kohlrausch. In 1911, Schrödinger became an assistant to Exner.
In 1914, Erwin Schrödinger achieved Habilitation (venia legendi). Between 1914-18, he was involved in war participation (Görz, Duino, Sistiana, Prosecco, Vienna). In 1920 April 6, Schrödinger married Annemarie Bertel. In 1920, he became the assistant to Max Wien, in Jena. In 1920, Sept. he attained the position of a. o. Prof. (Ausserordentlicher Professor), roughly equivalent to Reader (UK) or associate professor (US)), in Stuttgart. In 1921, he attained the o. Prof. (Ordentlicher Professor, i.e. full professor), in Breslau (presently Wroclaw, Poland)
In 1922, he went to the Zürich University. In 1926, Schrödinger published in the Annalen der Physik the paper "Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem" [tr. Quantisation as an Eigenvalue Problem] over wave mechanics and what is now known as the Schrödinger equation. In 1927, he followed Max Planck in Berlin to the Humboldt-University. In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazi's anti-semitism. He became the Fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize together with Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac. His position at Oxford did not work out, it seems that his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women) was not considered acceptable. In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University and was offered a permanent position but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have been a problem. There was also a possibility of his being offered a position at the University of Edinburgh but there were visa delays and in the end he returned, in 1936 to University Graz, Austria.
In 1938, after Hitler occupied Austria, he had problems due to leaving Germany in 1933 and his known opposition to Nazism. He issued a statement recanting this opposition, something he later regreted and for which he personally apologised to Einstein. However, this did not fully appease the new dispensation and he was dismissed from his job for political unreliability. He suffered harassment and was told not to leave the country. He and his wife fled to Italy. From there he went to visiting positions in Oxford and in the University of Ghent. In 1940 he was asked to help establish an Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin, Ireland. He became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics and remained there for 17 years. He wrote about 50 further publications on various topics. These were attempts towards a unified field theory.
In 1944, he wrote "What is Life?" (which contains Negentropy, concepts for genetic code). According to James D. Watson's memoir, DNA, The Secret of Life, Schrödinger's 1944 book What is Life? gave Watson the inspiration to research the gene, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix structure. He stayed in Dublin until retirement. During this time he remained committed to his particular passion; there were scandaluous involvements with students and he fathered two children by two different Irish women.
In 1956, he returned to Vienna (chair ad personam). At an important lecture during the World Power Conference he refused to speak on nuclear energy because of his scepticism about it (he gave a philosophical lecture instead).
Death and afterwards
In 1961, Schrödinger died in Vienna at the age of 73 (due to tuberculosis). He left a widow, Anny. He was buried in Alpbach (Austria).
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