Erwin Schrödinger: Unraveling the Quantum Mysteries of the Universe

Saurav Singh

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Erwin Schrödinger (12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961), sometimes spelled as Schroedinger or Schrodinger, was an Austrian physicist who became a naturalized Irish citizen and was awarded the Nobel Prize. He made significant contributions to the development of quantum theory, particularly renowned for formulating the Schrödinger equation, a fundamental equation that describes the behavior of quantum systems and their evolving wave functions over time.

Life and Career

Schrödinger was born on 12 August 1887 in Erdberg, Vienna, Austria. His parents were Rudolf Schrödinger, a cerecloth producer and botanist, and Georgine Emilia Brenda Schrödinger (née Bauer), the daughter of Alexander Bauer, a chemistry professor at TU Wien. He was their only child.

On 6 April 1920, Schrödinger married Annemarie (Anny) Bertel. In 1938, when he moved to Ireland, he secured visas not only for himself and his wife but also for another woman, Hilde March. March was the wife of an Austrian colleague, and Schrödinger had a daughter with her in 1934. He personally corresponded with Éamon de Valera, the Taoiseach, to obtain a visa for March. In October 1939, all three of them established residence in Dublin. Schrödinger’s wife, Anny, passed away on 3 October 1965.

Schrödinger battled tuberculosis, and during the 1920s, he sought treatment at a sanatorium in Arosa. It was during this time that he formulated his famous wave equation. On 4 January 1961, at the age of 73, Schrödinger passed away in Vienna due to tuberculosis.

Legacy and Awards

Schrödinger’s legacy remains prominent both in philosophical debates and scientific discussions. His famous thought experiment involving Schrödinger’s cat continues to be discussed in popular science. At a technical level, his Schrödinger equation remains a cornerstone of quantum mechanics. He is recognized as one of the key figures in the establishment of quantum mechanics. Several tributes and honors have been dedicated to him, including the lunar crater Schrödinger on the far side of the Moon and the Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics in Vienna.

His portrait adorned the Austrian 1000-schilling banknote from 1983 to 1997. Numerous structures, such as a building at the University of Limerick in Ireland, the ‘Erwin Schrödinger Zentrum’ in Berlin, and the Route Schrödinger at CERN in France, are named after him.

On 12 August 2013, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Erwin Schrödinger’s 126th Birthday.