Internet search giant Google is tipping its hat to Erwin Schrödinger in a Google Doodle today, the 126th anniversary of the physicist’s birth.
Schrödinger is the Nobel prize winner behind the equation at the heart of quantum physics.
He was born on 12 August 1887 in Vienna. He was schooled at home as a child and went on to study theoretical physics at the University of Vienna. Military service came calling, however, which he took on voluntarily and then resumed during World War I.
Schrödinger returned to the study of physics after the war, particularly experimental physics. In 1925, when he was working as a physics professor at the University of Zurich, he formulated a wave equation that gave the energy levels of atoms. This work led to his earning the Nobel prize in physics in 1933.
Schrödinger was also a critic of conventional interpretations of quantum mechanics. He used the paradox of what would become known as ‘Schrödinger’s cat’, that illustrated what Schrödinger saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects, resulting in a contradiction with common sense.
Physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961)
He also expanded his study of physics into the areas of colour theory, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. His 1944 book, What is Life? took a closer look at the phenomenon of life from a physics perspective.
That book had been based on public lectures Schrödinger had delivered in February 1943, under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College Dublin.
Schrödinger died in Vienna on 4 January 1961, leaving behind his wife, Annemarie, whom he married in 1920.