(born: August 12, 1887 / died: January 4, 1961)
||Erwin Schrödinger was born on August 12, 1887,
in Vienna, the only child of Rudolf Schrödinger. Erwin's
father came from a Bavarian family which generations before had settled in
Vienna. He was a highly gifted man with a broad education. After having finished
his chemistry studies, he devoted himself for years to Italian painting.
After this he took up botany, which resulted in a series of papers on plant
Schrödinger's wide interests dated from his school years
at the Gymnasium, where he not only had a liking for the scientific disciplines,
but also appreciated the severe logic of ancient grammar and the beauty of
German poetry. (What he abhorred was memorizing of data and learning from
|From 1906 to 1910 he was a student at the University of Vienna, during
which time he came under the strong influence of Fritz Hasenöhrl, who
was Boltzmann's successor. It was in these years that Schrödinger acquired
a mastery of eigenvalue problems in the physics of continuous media, thus
laying the foundation for his future great work. Hereafter, as assistant
to Franz Exner, he, together with his friend K. W. F. Kohlrausch, conducted
practical work for students (without himself, as he said, learning what experimenting
was). During the First World War he served as an artillery officer.
|In 1920 he took up an academic position as assistant to Max Wien,
followed by positions at Stuttgart (extraordinary professor), Breslau (ordinary
professor), and at the University of Zurich (replacing von Laue) where he
settled for six years. In later years Schrödinger looked back to his
Zurich period with great pleasure - it was here that he enjoyed so much the
contact and friendship of many of his colleagues, among whom were Hermann
Weyl and Peter Debye. It was also his most fruitful period, being actively
engaged in a variety of subjects of theoretical physics. His papers at that
time dealt with specific heats of solids, with problems of thermodynamics
(he was greatly interested in Boltzmann's probability theory) and of atomic
spectra; in addition, he indulged in physiological studies of colour (as
a result of his contacts with Kohlrausch and Exner, and of Helmholtz's lectures).
His great discovery, Schrödinger's wave equation, was made at the end
of this epoch-during the first half of 1926.
|It came as a result of his dissatisfaction with the quantum condition
in Bohr's orbit theory and his belief that atomic spectra should really be
determined by some kind of eigenvalue problem. For this work he shared with
Dirac the Nobel Prize for 1933.