Erwin Schrodinger is one of the most influential thinkers and scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The important Austrian made huge advancements in quantum physics that have helped change and define the way we look at the world.
Schrodinger is so much more than just his cat though, so let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Erwin Schrodinger.
Erwin Schrodinger Facts
1. He has a crater on the moon named after him
Erwin Schrodinger has had a lot of memorials and buildings name after him thanks to his undeniable influence on the world, but one thing that is named after him is quite literally out of this world.
A crater on the dark side of the moon has been named after the scientist. The crater is officially known as ‘large crater Schrodinger’, an interesting fact about Erwin Schrodinger.
2. Schrodinger’s Cat
Schrodinger’s most famous idea is that of ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’. This was a thought experiment that was first thought up in 1935. The idea is a theoretical question and has a cat was locked in a box or small chamber with a bottle of poison, a Geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer.
The radioactive matter is incredibly small, meaning there is a 50/50 chance of it being detected by the Geiger counter. If it is detected, however, then it will cause the hammer to smash the poison and kill the cat.
This thought experiment was designed to undermine the flaws in the Copenhagen Institute’s take on the quantum superposition. The experiment theorizes that until the box is opened, the cat exists in a limbo state of being both alive and dead.
The theory is often referenced in popular culture and has become a staple of modern-day philosophical thinking.
3. Erwin Schrodinger was born in 1887
Erwin Schrodinger was born on the 12th of August 1887 in Vienna, Austria. His father, Rudolf Schrodinger, was a botanist, while his mother was Georgine Emilia Brenda Schrödinger, the daughter of a chemistry professor.
His mother was half Austrian, half English and was a Lutheran, while his father was a catholic. Despite being raised by two religious parents and attending church at a young age, an interesting fact about Erwin Schrodinger is that he was an atheist.
4. He died in 1961
Erwin Schrodinger had battled ill health for a lot of his life. He spent some time in the 1920s in a sanatorium in Arosa, where he was fighting against tuberculosis. It would be this illness that would catch up with him once again later in life. Erwin Schrodinger died from tuberculosis on January 4th, 1961 in his home city of Vienna, Austria. He was 73 years old.
5. He was awarded the Nobel Prize
Erwin Schrodinger received a great many awards during his lifetime. While he received a lot of honorary degrees and other awards for his hard work, the most significant prize that he won came when he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933, an interesting Erwin Schrodinger fact.
Schrodinger had just left the University of Berlin to go and teach at Oxford University at the time. He shared the prize with another scientist, Paul A.M. Dirac. During his speech for the prize, he stated that the prize would have been going to his mentor, Fritz Hasenöhrl, had he not been tragically killed during the First World War.
6. He Left Germany in the Second World War
After being forced to join the Austro-Hungarian forces in the First World War, Schrodinger took a stance against the rise of the Nazi party and their anti-semitic views in the build-up to the Second World War.
He and his wife, Annemarie Bertel, left Germany after getting the attention of the Nazi party and fled to Italy. Of course, Italy’s political situation was equally as worrying and Schrodinger and Bertel managed to secure a safe passage to England, where Schrodinger would take up several university positions.
7. He earned a PhD at the age of 23
Erwin Schrodinger showed an aptitude for learning at an incredibly young age. After capturing the attention of his teachers and those around him with his fine academic performances, Schrodinger eventually went on to study his doctorate at the University of Vienna.
In 1910, under the supervision of his mentor, Fritz Hasenöhrl, Erwin Schrodinger was awarded his PhD in physics at the remarkably young age of just 23. A sign of the greatness that he would go on to achieve during his life.
8. He had a spiritual side
Despite all of his work in the sciences and his declaration at a young age that he was an atheist, there was still a spiritual element to Erwin Schrodinger.
Schrodinger had very keen interests in Eastern religions and pantheism, and he would regularly feature religious and spiritual iconography in his work. He was a particular believer in the Hindu Vedanta philosophy.
9. The Schrodinger Equation
Erwin Schrodinger’s most influential contribution was The Schrodinger Equation. The Schrodinger Equation is a linear partial differential equation that is used to describe the wave or state function of a quantum-mechanical system, an interesting Erwin Schrodinger fact.
Schrodinger made the discovery in 1925 and it would be this would propel him to go on to win a Nobel Prize less than a decade later. This discovery made significant advancements in the area of quantum physics possible.
10. He had an Irish Passport
Due to his often controversial opinions and his unique lifestyle, Erwin Schrodinger lived a somewhat nomadic life, spending time in several different countries before returning back to Vienna at the end of his life.
One country where he was particularly welcomed was Ireland. Schrodinger was invited to live and work in Dublin at the Institute of Advanced Studies by the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Éamon de Valer in 1939.
Schrodinger then lived in Dublin with his wife and his other partner for well over a decade and in that time he became an Irish citizen and was given an Irish passport. This is often viewed as one of the most productive periods of Schrodinger’s life.
Erwin Schrodinger’s impact on the modern world is undeniable. His work have helped to change the world we live in and his thought experiments have earned him his place in popular culture today.
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