Erwin Schrödinger

The Schrödinger Effect: When Being Both Alive and Dead is a Good Thing (In Physics)

Erwin Schrödinger, the famous Austrian physicist, would have been turning 133 years old today, and we thought it was about time to pay homage to this brilliant man and his contributions to the world of science.

First of all, let’s get the basics out of the way. Erwin Schrödinger was born on August 12, 1887, in Vienna, Austria. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna, where he received his Ph.D. in 1910. Throughout his career, Schrödinger made numerous groundbreaking contributions to the field of physics, including his work on wave mechanics and the Schrödinger equation, which is still used today to describe the behavior of quantum systems.

But let’s be real, it’s not exactly the most thrilling topic to read about. So how about we spice things up a bit with a little bit of trivia? Did you know that Schrödinger was a bit of a ladies’ man? In fact, he was married three times and had multiple affairs throughout his life. His first wife, Annemarie Bertel, was only 18 when they got married, and Schrödinger was 22. The couple had a tumultuous relationship, and eventually divorced after only a few years of marriage. Schrödinger’s second wife, Hilde March, was also significantly younger than him (she was 23, while he was 37 when they got married). The two remained married until Hilde’s death in 1936. Schrödinger’s third wife, Anny Brentano, was a Jewish woman who he married in 1940 to protect her from the dangers of Nazi persecution. Talk about a romantic hero!

But let’s get back to Schrödinger’s scientific contributions, shall we? One of the most well-known thought experiments associated with Schrödinger is Schrödinger’s cat paradox. In this thought experiment, a cat is placed in a box with a device that has a 50% chance of killing the cat within an hour. According to quantum mechanics, until the box is opened and the fate of the cat is determined, the cat is both alive and dead. This paradox illustrates the strange and counterintuitive nature of quantum mechanics, and has been the subject of much debate and discussion among physicists.

But Schrödinger’s contributions to science go beyond just Schrödinger’s cat paradox. In fact, his work on wave mechanics played a crucial role in the development of quantum mechanics, which is a fundamental theory in physics that describes the behavior of particles at the atomic and subatomic scale. Without Schrödinger’s contributions, we might not have the advanced technologies that we enjoy today, such as transistors, lasers, and computer chips. So next time you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed on your smartphone, take a moment to thank Erwin Schrödinger for making it possible.



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