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Erwin SchrÐ"¶dinger Biography

22 September 2007


I. In The Beginning

a. Birth

b. Early Work

c. Education

II. Wave Equation

a. Broglie wavelength

b. Werner Heisenberg

c. Max Born


The purpose of this paper is to educate of the life and times on World famous, Nobel Prize winning, Quantum Mechanic Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander SchrÐ"¶dinger. Some of his early work and academic achievements will be focused on. In addition, Schrodinger's Wavelength Equation will also be discussed.

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander SchrÐ"¶dinger (August 12, 1887 Ð'- January 4, 1961) was an Austrian physicist famous for his contributions to quantum mechanics, especially the SchrÐ"¶dinger equation, for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1933. He proposed the SchrÐ"¶dinger's cat thought experiment, and he had a life-long interest in Vedanta. In 1887, SchrÐ"¶dinger was born, in Vienna, to Rudolf SchrÐ"¶dinger and Georgine Emilia Brenda. In 1898, he attended the Akademisches Gymnasium. Between 1906-10, SchrÐ"¶dinger studied in Vienna with Franz Serafin Exner (1849 - 1926) and Fritz HasenÐ"¶hrl (1874 - 1915). He also conducted experimental work in Kohlrausch.

In 1911, SchrÐ"¶dinger became an assistant to Exner. In 1914, Erwin SchrÐ"¶dinger achieved Habilitation. During 1914-18, he was involved in war participation. In 1920 April 6, SchrÐ"¶dinger 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., roughly equivalent to Reader or associate professor in Stuttgart. In 1921, he attained the o. Prof. (Ordentlicher Professor, i.e. full professor), in Breslau.

In 1927 SchrÐ"¶dinger moved to Berlin as Planck's successor. Germany's capital was then a centre of great scientific activity and he enthusiastically took part in the weekly colloquies among colleagues, many of whom "exceeding him in age and reputation". With Hitler's coming to power (1933), however, SchrÐ"¶dinger decided he could not continue in Germany. He came to England and for a while held a fellowship at Oxford. In 1934 he was invited to lecture at Princeton University and was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept. In 1936 he was offered a position at University of Graz, which he accepted only after much deliberation and because his longing for his native country outweighed his caution. With the annexation of Austria in 1938, he was immediately in difficulty because his leaving Germany in 1933 was taken to be an unfriendly act. Soon afterwards he managed to escape to Italy, from where he proceeded to Oxford and then to University of Ghent. After a short stay he moved to the newly created Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin, where he became Director of the School for Theoretical Physics. He remained in Dublin until his retirement in 1955.

In 1922, he went to the ZÐ"јrich University. In 1926, SchrÐ"¶dinger published in the Annalen der Physik the paper "Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem" over wave mechanics and what is now known as the SchrÐ"¶dinger equation. In 1927, he followed Max Planck in Berlin to the Humboldt-University. In 1933, however, SchrÐ"¶dinger 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 was not considered acceptable. In 1934, SchrÐ"¶dinger 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 regretted and for which he personally apologized 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, SchrÐ"¶dinger'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 scandalous involvements with students and he fathered two children by two different Irish women.


Erwin Schrodinger made a profound discovery in 1927 by showing that the discrete energy states of Matter could be determined by Wave Equations. Unfortunately, the following year Max Born stumbled upon the mathematical relationship that the square of these equations described a probability function for where the 'particle' could be found. Thus rather than realizing that matter was made of waves, for the next seventy years humanity went down the path of assuming the particles were real, and the waves were merely probability functions, or perhaps more correctly, that neither 'particles or waves' are real, both are merely human constructions, logical tools of thinking that approximate



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