Erwin Schrödinger

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Erwin Schrödinger : biography

12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961

In 1921, he moved to the University of Zürich. In 1927, he succeeded Max Planck at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazis’ anti-semitism. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize together with Paul Dirac. His position at Oxford did not work out; his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women)Walter J. Moore. Schrödinger, life and thought, 278 ff. was not met with acceptance. In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University; he was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have posed a problem.Deutsche Biographie He had the prospect of a position at the University of Edinburgh but visa delays occurred, and in the end he took up a position at the University of Graz in Austria in 1936.

In the midst of these tenure issues in 1935, after extensive correspondence with Albert Einstein, he proposed what is now called the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment.

Later years

In 1939, after the Anschluss, Schrödinger had problems because of his flight from Germany in 1933 and his known opposition to Nazism. He issued a statement recanting this opposition (he later regretted doing so and personally apologized to Einstein). However, this did not fully appease the new dispensation and the university dismissed him from his job for political unreliability. He suffered harassment and received instructions not to leave the country, but he and his wife fled to Italy. From there, he went to visiting positions in Oxford and Ghent University.

In the same year he received a personal invitation from Ireland’s Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, to reside in Ireland and agree to help establish an Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin. He moved to Clontarf, Dublin, became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics in 1940 and remained there for 17 years. He became a naturalized Irish citizen in 1948, but retained his Austrian citizenship. He wrote about 50 further publications on various topics, including his explorations of unified field theory.

In 1944, he wrote What is Life?, which contains a discussion of negentropy and the concept of a complex molecule with the genetic code for living organisms. According to James D. Watson’s memoir, DNA, the Secret of Life, Schrödinger’s book gave Watson the inspiration to research the gene, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix structure in 1953. Similarly, Francis Crick, in his autobiographical book What Mad Pursuit, described how he was influenced by Schrödinger’s speculations about how genetic information might be stored in molecules. However, the geneticist and 1946 Nobel-prize winner H.J. Muller had in his 1922 article "Variation due to Change in the Individual Gene"American Naturalist 56 (1922) already laid out all the basic properties of the heredity molecule that Schrödinger derives from first principles in What is Life?, properties which Muller refined in his 1929 article "The Gene As The Basis of Life"Proceedings of the International Congress of Plant Sciences 1 (1929) and further clarified during the 1930s, long before the publication of What is Life?.In Pursuit of the Gene. From Darwin to DNA — By James Schwartz. Harvard University Press, 2008

Schrödinger stayed in Dublin until retiring in 1955. During this time he remained committed to his particular passion; involvements with students occurred and he fathered two children by two different Irish women.Newworldencyclopedia He had a lifelong interest in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, which influenced his speculations at the close of What is Life? about the possibility that individual consciousness is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe.My View of the WorldErwin Schrödinger chapter iv. What is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter — By Erwin Schrodinger A manuscript from this time recently resurfaced at The King’s Hospital boarding school, Dublin http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0418/1224314875355.html The Irish Times 18 April 2012. after it was written for the School’s 1955 edition of their Blue Coat to celebrate his leaving of Dublin to take up his appointment as Chair of Physics at the University of Vienna.