Erwin Schrodinger Gets A Google Doodle
In 1887 a factory owner and his Austrian-English wife gave birth to a future Nobel prize-winning quantum physicist in Vienna. Today marks the birthday of Erwin Schrodinger. Schrodinger was tutored at home as a child and went on to study theoretical physics at the University of Vienna before his voluntary military service. He later returned to his studies where he went into experimental physics.
It was not until his late thirties that he changed the course of physics with a series of papers that were all written and published over a six-month period.
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.
Today his birthday is celebrated with a Google Doodle. This lady, in fact, thanks him for his contribution to her decision making ability. If there is ever a question I have about something that I cannot possibly know the result to, I always think of his cat. It always helps me to realize that unless I actually open the box, I will never know.