Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John GribbinErwin Schrodinger was an Austrian physicist famous for his contribution to quantum physics. He won the Nobel Prize in 1933 and is best known for his thought experiment of a cat in a box, both alive and dead at the same time, which revealed the seemingly paradoxical nature of quantum mechanics.
Schrodinger was working at one of the most fertile and creative moments in the whole history of science. By the time he was starting university in 1906, Einstein had already published his revolutionary papers on relativity. Now the baton of scientific progress was being passed to a new generation: Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, Niels Bohr, and of course, Schrodinger himself.
In this riveting biography John Gribbin takes us into the heart of the quantum revolution. He tells the story of Schrodingers surprisingly colourful life (he arrived for a position at Oxford University with both his wife and mistress). And with his trade mark accessible style and popular touch explains the fascinating world of quantum mechanics, which underpins all of modern science.
SCHRODINGER'S CAT EXPLAINED
In , he received a Nobel Prize for this work, along with physicist Paul Dirac. At the age of 11, he entered the Akademische Gymnasium in Vienna, a school focused on classical education and training in physics and mathematics. From there, he became faculty at a number of universities over a short period of time, first becoming a junior professor in Stuttgart, then a full professor at Breslau, before joining the University of Zurich as a professor in He published a series of papers — about one per month — on wave mechanics. Here's an example: consider a light that can light up either red or green. When we are not looking at the light, we assume that it is both red and green.
The vial breaks if an atom inside the box decays. The atom is superposed in decay and non-decay states until it is observed, and thus the cat is superposed in alive and dead states. There, in a six-month period in , at the age of 39, a remarkably late age for original work by theoretical physicists, he produced the papers that gave the foundations of quantum wave mechanics. The definite and readily visualized sequence of events of the planetary orbits of Newton is, in quantum mechanics, replaced by the more abstract notion of probability. A cat is locked in a steel box with a small amount of a radioactive substance such that after one hour there is an equal probability of one atom either decaying or not decaying. If the atom decays, a device smashes a vial of poisonous gas, killing the cat.
His most famous objection was the thought experiment that later became known as Schrodinger's cat. A cat is locked in a steel box with a.
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Nobel Prize winning physicist who shaped quantum mechanics
During World War I, between and , he participated in war work as a commissioned officer in the Austrian fortress artillery, and after the War, in , he married Annemarie Bertel. His position at Oxford, though, did not work out it is likely that his unconventional personal life - he lived with two women, his wife, Annemarie Bertel, and his pregnant mistress, Hilde March - did not meet with acceptance in the proper Oxford of the s. He was offered a permanent position at Princeton University in the United States in , but he did not accept it, and again his lifestyle may have posed a problem. In the end, he took up a position at the University of Graz in Austria in The thought experiment proposed a scenario in which a cat was hidden in a sealed box, where the cat's life or death was dependent on the state of a particular sub-atomic particle.
In addition, he was the author of many works in various fields of physics: statistical mechanics and thermodynamics , physics of dielectrics, colour theory , electrodynamics , general relativity , and cosmology , and he made several attempts to construct a unified field theory. In his book What Is Life? He paid great attention to the philosophical aspects of science, ancient and oriental philosophical concepts, ethics, and religion. He was their only child. His mother was of half Austrian and half English descent; his father was Catholic and his mother was Lutheran. Although he was raised in a religious household as a Lutheran , he called himself an atheist. He was also able to learn English outside school, as his maternal grandmother was British.