Biographies

Erwin Schrödinger and wave mechanics

Erwin Schrödinger and wave mechanics

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist who made important discoveries in the fields of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.

Schrödinger was born in Vienna, Austria, on August 12, 1887, and died on January 4, 1961. The only son of the marriage formed by Rudolf Schrödinger and a daughter of Alexander Bauer, who was his chemistry professor at the Technical University of Vienna .

In 1920, he assumed an academic position as assistant to Max Wien; then he holds the positions of extraordinary professor in Stuttgart, full professor at Breslau, first, and then at the University of Zurcí.

It was his most fruitful period, actively dealing with a variety of theoretical physics topics. His articles focused specifically on the temperature of solids, thermodynamic problems and atomic spectra. His great discovery, the Schrödinger wave equation, it happened during the first half of 1926. For that work Schrödinger shared with Dirac the Nobel Prize in Physics of 1933.

In 1927, Schrödinger moved to Berlin to succeed Planck. When Hitler rises to power in 1933, Schrödinger, like many other scientists, concludes that in that political environment he cannot continue in Germany. He emigrates to England and works in Oxford.

In 1938 he moved to Italy. After a brief stay in the United States, he returns to Europe to hold an academic position at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin, being subsequently appointed director of the school of theoretical physics of that institution. He remains in Dublin until his retirement in 1955.

He invented wave mechanics in 1926, and it was formulated independently of quantum mechanics. Like the latter, wave mechanics mathematically describes the behavior of electrons and atoms. But its core equation, known as the Schrödinger equation, is characterized by its simplicity and precision to deliver solutions to problems investigated by physicists.

After maintaining a long correspondence with Albert Einstein, proposed a mental experiment known as Schrödinger's cat which showed the paradoxes and questions that quantum physics advocated.

However, with his retirement from active academic life, Schrödinger continued his research and published a variety of articles on different topics, which included the problem of linking gravity with electromagnetism, which also absorbed Einstein. He also wrote a small book entitled "What is Life" and expressed interest in the foundation of atomic physics.

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