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Erwin Schödinger

Erwin Schrödinger was born in 1887 in Vienna, Austria. After studying under many prominent Austrian physicists, he achieved Habilitation, a European post-doctoral degree.

Though personal reasons kept Schrödinger bouncing between multiple university posts, he nonetheless was able to produce a substantial body of work, some of which are considered the most important scientific contributions of the century.

During 1926, Schrödinger published a series of four papers on wave mechanics, centering what came to be known as " Schrödinger's Equation." His ideas were revolutionary, not only in the field of quantum mechanics, but physics and chemistry as well. Though this was undoubtedly Schrödinger's greatest scientific contribution, he also made an impact on popular science with the paradox known as " Schrödinger's Cat," a philosophical quandry that arose from his correspondence with Albert Einstein.

 

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The Erwin Schrödinger Institute for Mathematical Physics

Schrödinger's interest in philosophy became more pronounced later in his life; his fascination with the Vedanta branch of Hindu philosophy was one of the driving forces behind his book What is Life?, published in 1944. This spiritual inspiration is evident in the book's suggestion that individual consciousness is but a mirror of a universal awareness. However, in the same book, Schrödinger postulated that complex molecules might be the building blocks for life, which both Watson and Crick cite in their respective autobiographies as being influential in their joint research, which eventually led to the discovery of the gene.l

Schrödinger was skeptical of nuclear energy, and at a 1956 World Energy Conference, refused to lecture on the topic, giving a philosophical speech instead. During this period he also controversially departed from the mainstream quantum mechanics he had helped create. He died in 1961of tuberculosis.