Physicist Erwin Schrödinger's Google doodle marks quantum mechanics work
Posted in the Laval Forum
#1 Aug 12, 2013
Google's latest doodle marks the birthday of Erwin Schrödinger, the Nobel prize-winning quantum physicist whose eponymous equation lies at the heart of quantum mechanics.
Born in Vienna in 1887 to a factory owner and his Austrian-English wife, Schrödinger was tutored at home as a child and went on to study theoretical physics at the University of Vienna before undertaking voluntary military service, later returning to academia to study experimental physics.
Renewed military service during the first world war broke up his studies before he was sent back to Vienna in 1917 to teach a course in meteorology.
However, it was not until his late 30s that he was to change forever the face of physics by producing a series of papers that were all written and published over the course of a six-month period of theoretical research.
By 1925, then a professor of physics at the University of Zurich and holidaying in the Alps, Schrödinger formulated a wave-equation that accurately gave the energy levels of atoms. It formed the basis of the work that would earn him the Nobel prize in physics in 1933.
In subsequent years, he repeatedly criticised conventional interpretations of quantum mechanics by using the paradox of what would become known as Schrödinger's cat. This thought experiment was designed to illustrate what he saw as the problems surrounding application of the conventional, so-called "Copenhagen interpretation" of quantum mechanics to everyday objects.
Other work focused on different fields of physics, including statistical mechanics, thermodynamics and colour theory. In a celebrated 1944 book, What Is Life?, he turned to the problems of genetics, taking a close look at the phenomenon of life from the point of view of physics.
He died in Vienna in January 1961 from the tuberculosis that had affected him throughout his life and was buried in the western Austrian village of Alpbach.
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