1938/1939 Gent, Belgien.

1939 Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin.

1956 Wien University.

1957 Schrödinger formally retires. After a year as an active emeritus, he moves to his house in Alpbach/Tirol.

Books

1935 Science and the Human Temperament. A selection of his popular German lectures and essays, translated by James Murphy. Plans for the book had been made in 1932, apparently in a cafe on the Linden in Berlin.

1944 What is Life?. The book grew out of a series of public lectures in Dublin, in 1943, of the same name. It was due to be printed by Cahill and Co. in Dublin, but controversial sections of the book lead Cahill to withdraw just prior to the book appearing. It was eventually published by the Cambridge University Press in 1944.

1946 Statistical Thermodynamics based on a course of lectures at D.I.A.S. Published by Cambridge University Press. Derives ult

Brief Chronology

12.08.1887 Erwin Schrödinger born in Wien (Vienna).

1898-1906 Academic Gymnasium in Wien.

1906 Enters Wien University. His teachers included Franz Exner and Fritz Hasenöhrl in Physics and Wilhelm Wirtinger in Mathematics.

20.05.1910 Award of (first) degree. This is usually reported as award of the Doctor of Philosophy degree, which was true at the time in the sense that the Doctor degree was the name of the first degree at Austrian Universities, but this degree was obviously not equivalent to what we now understand by the Ph.D.

1911-1920 Assistant of Exner at the II. Physikalischen Institute of Wien University.

1914 Habilitation; Privatdozent

1914-1918 War service on the Austrian Southern Front.

1920 Marries Annemarie Bertel. Dozent in Theoretical Physics as Assistant to Max Wien at Jena University.

1920 Professor in Stuttgart

1921 Professor at Breslau (present-day Wroclaw).

1921/1927 Professor in Theoretical Physics at the University of Zürich.

1925/1926 Work on Wave Mechanics. In early 1926, his fundamental papers on Wave Mechanics appeared in the Annalen der Physik (along with the Schrödinger-Equation).

1927-1933 Successor of Max Planck as Professor of Theoretical Physics at Berlin University.

1933 Professor at Magdalen College in Oxford

1933 Erwin Schrödinger and Paul Dirac receive the Nobel Prize in Physics.

1936 Professor of Physics at University of Graz. imately from his paper On the Einstein Gas Theory and its consequences.

1949 Gedichte A collection of his poems, published by Helmut Küpper of Godesberg.

1950 Space-Time Structure. Cambridge University Press

1954 Nature and the Greeks based on a series of lectures.

1958 Mind and Matter Cambridge University Press

1960 Meine Weltansicht The first part was written in 1925 and the second part in 1960, and were published together.

Early Years

Gluckgasse, Wien

Erwin Schrödinger's father, Rudolf Schrödinger, ran a small linoleum and oilcloth factory, Groll Brothers, which he had inherited from his own father. Erwin's mother, Georgine (Georgie) Bauer, was half English, this side of the family coming from Leamington Spa - her father was Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnikum in Wien. They settled at Gluckgasse 3.

Schrödinger learnt English and German almost at the same time due to the fact that both were spoken in the household. He was not sent to elementary school, but received lessons at home from a private tutor up to the age of ten (which was not unusual). He entered the Akademisches Gymnasium in the autumn of 1898, rather later than was usual by virtue of a long holiday in Leamington Spa (his great-grandmother lived in Modena Villa, Russell Terrace). Other places visited apparently were Kenilworth and Warwick castles and Ramsgate. It is recorded that he learnt to ride a bike in Britain, a pastime he was to follow throughout his life. On the way back, he spent a few weeks at St Niklaus School in Innsbruck, to prepare for the entrance exam for the Gymnasium.

He wrote later about his time at the Gymnasium:-

I was a good student in all subjects, loved mathematics and physics, but also the strict logic of the ancient grammars, hated only memorising incidental dates and facts. I liked the German poets, I loved especially the dramatists, but hated the scholastic dissection of their works'.
Akademisches Gymnasium, Wien

Later on, a quotation from a fellow student school runs as follows:-

Especially in physics and mathematics, Schrödinger had a gift for understanding that allowed him, without any homework, immediately and directly to comprehend all the material during the class hours and to apply it. After the lecture ... it was possible for our professor Neumann to call Schrödinger immediately to the blackboard and to set him problems, which he solved with playful facility.

Tonio Rella, who is usually stated to be second in class, behind Schrödinger, became professor of Mathematics at the Technical University in Wien, but was killed by during the Russian capture of the city in April 1945.

Wien University

Schrödinger graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium in 1906 and, in that year, entered the University of Vienna, along with Tonio Rella.

In the same year, the Physics Department had received a major shock with the suicide of Ludwig Boltzmann, which apparently left Schrödinger broken-hearted. No lectures in Theoretical Physics were given at the University for two years as a result of Boltzmann's death.

In Theoretical Physics, Schrödinger studied analytical mechanics, applications of partial differential equations to dynamics, eigenvalue problems, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic theory, optics, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics.

It was Fritz (Friedrich) Hasenöhrl's lectures on Theoretical Physics which had the greatest influence on Schrödinger (Hasenöhrl had been promoted to fill Boltzmann's old chair) . In Mathematics he was taught calculus and algebra by Franz Mertens, function theory, differential equations and mathematical statistics by Wilhelm Wirtinger (who he found uninspiring as a lecturer). He also studied projective geometry, algebraic curves and continuous groups in lectures given by Gustav Kohn.

His closest friend at University appears to have been Franz Frimmel, a student of Botany. His closest friend among the Physics staff appeared to be Fritz Kohlrausch. Another contemporary at the University, one year lower, was Hans Thirring.

On 20 May 1910, Schrödinger was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (which was the first degree at an Austrian University, not to be confused with the present-day degree of the same name) which required an original dissertation which he wrote on the subject of On the conduction of electricity on the surface of insulators in moist air, under the supervision of Franz Exner.

After this, he undertook voluntary military service in the fortress artillery, which involved one year's service, followed by a commission as an officer in the reserve. It appears that a vacancy with Hasenöhrl could have been his if he had not gone into the army - this post went to Hans Thirring, who had been excused from military training because of a skiing accident which he had actually suffered while skiing with Schrödinger.

On leaving the Army, he was appointed to an assistantship in the Second Physics Institute of Wien University but, rather surprisingly, in experimental physics rather than theoretical physics. His immediate supervisor was Kohlrausch, under the overall supervision of Franz Exner. He later said that his experiences conducting experiments proved an invaluable asset to his theoretical work since it gave him a practical philosophical framework in which to set his theoretical ideas.

The next stage on the academic ladder was the Habilitation,which required evidence of original research and allowed the bearer to teach in a University. Papers read as part of this process include

  • On the Kinetic Theory of Magnetism and the Influence of Electrons presented before the Wien Academy on June 29, 1912. Diamagnetism. This was based on a false premise - a false premise which had been pointed out by Bohr in 1911 - and his theory did not actually correlate with experiment unless other effects are assumed.

  • Studies on the Kinetics of Dielectrics, the Melting Point, Pyro- and Piezo Electricity Presented to the Academy on October 17, 1912. Deals with why a solid melts into a liquid and based on the work of Pieter Debye, it did not take into account of the importance of van der Waal forces, which appears to have been a fatal weakness.

  • Paper no 48 on what we now know to be cosmic rays. Schrödinger appeared to assume that the souce was in the atmosphere. In August 1912, his colleague, Viktor Hess, had used a balloon to study these 'cosmic rays' and deduced that their souce was extraterrestrial, a result he announced in June 1913. Seeham

  • Radium A Content of the Atmosphere in Seeham 1913 Seeham lies on the Mattsee, near Salzburg. This work was carried out in collaboration with Kohlrausch - he was visited by Kohlrausch on one occadion and introduced to Annemarie Bertel who was taking care of the Kohlrauschs' children. For this paper they were awarded the Haitinger Prize of the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

The next step was a lecture, for which he was requested to present a talk on the magneton (selected from the three topics that candidates were required to submit). The lecture was given on June 26, 1913. This was followed by a couple of oral examinations/discussions.

He was awarded the degree on January 9 1914. That it was not an outstanding piece of work is shown by the fact that the committee was not unanimous in recommending him for the degree.

One of his other potential subjects for the lecture was on the theory of anomalous electric dispersion, which he wrote up and it appeared as a paper in the Discussions of the German Physical Society.

During 1913, he compiled a chapter on Dielectrics for the 5-volume Handbook of Electricity and Magnetism

In 1913, Wien had hosted the 85th. Meeting of German Scientists and Physicians.

In 1914 Schrödinger's first important paper was published developing ideas of Boltzmann. It was published in the Annalen der Physik and entitled On the Dynamics of Elastically Coupled Point Systems.

First World War

Predilsattel Battery

Erwin received his mobilization orders on July 31, 1914. He was sent to the Italian border - Predilsattel, a fortified position 1.000 meters up, overlooking the Seebach Valley.

No direct military engagements appears to have taken place (largely because Italy was neutral), and Schrödinger was able to engage in some sort of research. In October 1914, he sent a paper to the Annalen - Capillary Pressure in Gas Bubbles, in which he dispelled three common arguments for surface tension.

Towards the end of 1914, he was transferred to Franzenfeste, north of Brixen in South Tirol. The fort here had been built to guard the Brixener Klause, a gorge at the entrance to the Brenner Pass.

In 1915 he was transferred to Komaron in Hungary, around about the time when Serb troops were threatening the country. Nevertheless, he continued to do research. On July 26 1915, the Physikalische Zeitschrift received his paper On The Theory of Experiments on the Rise and Fall of Particles in Brownian Motion. This was highly relevant to Millikan's procedure for the determination of the charge of an electron, but it seems never to have been acknowledged openly by Millikan.

Italy did enter the war on May 23 1915, and on July 26 Erwin was ordered back to the Italian front, in the region of Trieste, near to Görz. Here action started straight away (as already mentioned, Erwin was in the artillery).

On May 1 1916, Erwin was promoted to Oberleutnant. Later in the month, the Italians (under the 'leadership' of General Luigi Cadorno) captured Görz (Gorizia) during the battle of Isonzo, the only major Italian gain of the war (apart from the latter stages when the Austrian Empire was disintegrating). Aside : The fighting around Gorizia features in 'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway. Erwin, however, seems to have spent the rest of the year in comparitive safety - some sources have claimed that after Hasenöhrl was killed, the authorities were reluctant to have another physicist lost in action.

Franz Josef died in November 1916. His successor, Karl, immediately tried to make a separate piece with the Entente. Erwin, when he got wind of this, described it as a betrayal of Deutschland. The Germans themselves were powerful enough to undermine Karl's efforts totally.

Return to Wien

In the spring of 1917, Schrödinger was sent back to Vienna to teach an introductory course at the University and a course in meteorology to anti-aircraft officers in Wiener Neustadt.

In July 1917, he sent a paper to the Physikalische Zeitschrift on the 'outer zone of abnormal audibility' - the noise from large explosions does not fall off monotonically with distance but appears to rise within a zone 50 to 100 kilometers away. Without actually giving an explanation for the effect, Erwin demolished some previous theories. About the same time, he sent an article called The Results of New Research on Atomic and Molecular Heats to Die Naturwissenschaften, which is held by some sources to be highly significant because it is the first piece in which he considers Quantum Theory.

He sent a short paper in November 1917 to Physikalische Zeitschrift concerning General Relativity. He had first read about the subject while at Prosecco. Later in November he sent in a second paper On a System of Solutions of the General Covariant Gravitational Equations concerned with cosmology.

In 1918, he wrote two papers on statistical dynamics, proving the statistical nature of radioactive decay. The papers concerned the Schweidler fluctuations - these were fluctuations in the rate of radioactive decay. The first paper was presented in March and the second was actually presented in January 1919 and entitled Studies in Probability Theory of Schweidler Fluctuations, especially the Theory of their Measurement. This was the longest paper he ever wrote - 60 pages long. (Schweidler was a Privatsdozent at Wien)

His army pay stopped at the end of 1918 (leaving only his small University income), and the previous year his father's business had closed down. The family were now in serious financial difficulty. He had previously intended to replace Josef Geitler at Czernowitz University, but this became a part of Romania, and its government would not tolerate foreign employees. Chernovtsy, Ukraine.

After the end of the war he continued working at Vienna. From 1918 to 1920 he made substantial contributions to the theory of colour vision. He became a world authority on the latter subject and was accordingly asked by the editor of the Lehrbuch der Physik to write a section on Visual Sensations - he produced a 104 page article which became the standard work on the subject for many years. He also made important contributions to the kinetic theory of solids, studying the dynamics of crystal lattices. On the strength of this work, he was offered an associate professorship at Vienna in January 1920 but by this time he wished to marry Anny Bertel. They had become engaged in 1919 and Anny had come to work as a secretary in Vienna on a monthly salary which was more than Schrödinger's annual income. The associate professorship did not include a salary high enough to support a non-working wife, so he declined.

Jena

Schrödinger accepted an assistantship in Jena and this allowed him to marry Anny in a double ceremony on 24 March (in a Catholic Church) and April 6 (in an Evangelical Church) 1920.

He arrived in Jena in April 1920. He was to work as an assistant to Max Wien (whose brother, Wilhelm, won the Nobel Prize in 1911). Erwin had apparently been recommended for the job by Sommerfeld. He also had to supplement the lectures of Professor Auerbach with new ideas in Theoretical Physics. He also came to know Rudolf Eucken who had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1908.

Stuttgart

Although promoted at Jena, his position was not permanent, so when a permanent associate professorship became available at the Technical University of Stuttgart he chose to accept. He moved there in October 1920. Colleagues included the mathematician Hans Reichenbach, the Head of the Experimental Physics Department, Erich Regener and Paul Ewald, professor of Theoretical Physics (along with his wife Ella).

He wrote a paper which was sent to the Zeitschrift für Physik in January 1921. He wanted to obtain a model for alkali metals, like Sodium, by extending the Bohr-Sommerfeld theory, and considered 'penetrating orbits' or the Tauchbahn Effect.

Breslau

On January 14 1921, he was appointed to a chair at Breslau, starting on April 1. he had declined places at Kiel and wien, the latter because of poor conditions at the end of the war.

Zurich

While he was still at Stuttgart, he was approached about the possibility of going to Zurich, to fill the chair formerly held by Einstein and Laue. He expressed his willingness at the time, but the University went through various selection processes before finally deciding on Schrödinger, on July 20.

He moved to Zurich in the Autumn 1921, living at Huttenstrasse 9. However, almost as soon as he started, he was struck down with bronchitis and then tuberculosis, for which he was ordered to take a rest cure, that he took at Arosa, not far from Davos.

He stayed at Arosa for 9 months, and during this time wrote two papers. The first, On the Specific Heat of Solids at High Temperatures and On the Quantization of Vibrations of Finite Amplitude was sent on September 5, and the second was On a Remarkable Property of the Quantized Orbits of a Single Electron

In June 1922, he had written a paper The Doppler Principle and Bohr's Frequency Condition in which he gave the correction to the Bohr formula for the emission of a quantum from an excited atom, due to the recoil of the quantum. This was actually his first Zurich paper to appear in print - arguably if he developed his ideas a bit further, he could have predicted the Compton Effect.

As it was, in October 1922 Arthur Compton of Washington University in St. Louis announced what is now known as the Compton Effect. This appeared to favor the particle theory over the wave theory, but paradoxically it actually appeared to polarize physicists between the two theories.

Weyl was Schrödinger's closest colleague in his first years in Zurich and he was to provide the deep mathematical knowledge which would prove so helpful to Schrödinger in his work. He also had close contacts with Pieter Debye from ETH.

He resumed at the University in November 1922 and his inaugural lecture was given on December 9 1922, with the title What is a Natural Law ?.

1923
During 1923, he published no papers at all.

In Summer 1923, he went to Rügen where they were joined by the Ewalds.

1924

Early in 1924, he published on statistical thermodynamics - Gas Degeneracy and Free Path Lengths in the Physikalische Zeitschrift.

In 1924, he was invited to the Fourth Solvay Conference on 'The Electrical Conductivity of Metals and Related Topics' from April 24 to 29, but only as an observer, i.e. he presented no paper, although in this year, in contrast with the previous one, he published six papers.

The Bohr-Kramers-Slater (B-K-S) Theory attempted to explain the Compton Effect in terms of waves and appeared in May. In the same month, Erwin wrote to Bohr expressing support for the theory, and in a September issue of Die Naturwissenschaften he published a paper on the theory - Bohr's New Radiation Hypothesis and the Energy Law. Paradoxically, it seems that this paper led Bohr to believe that the theory was false - it had already attracted criticism from Einstein and Pauli. The theory required conservation laws to be violated.

In June, Born introduced the term Quantum Mechanics in one of his papers.

In September 1924, Innsbruck hosted the 88th Meeting of German Scientists and Physicians, arranged by Egon Schweidler, which Erwin attended but did not read a paper.

1925

In August 1925, he received an offer of a post at Innsbruck to replace Ottokar Tumlirz, although he reported that the current salary being offered was too low. Extra money was offered but this attracted critiscism in the local press in January 1926, and he officially declined the offer in March 1926.

The repercussions of the Michelson-Morley experiment re-appeared in 1921 when an American physicist, Dayton Miller, reported a non-null result, but reported that this would only be achieved at high altitude (at sea-level, the 'ether' would be carried along with the Earth). This result appears to have been especially seized upon by anti-semitic scientists seeking to discredit Einstein. In September 1925, Erwin wrote to Wilhelm Wien that he would like to see the experiment repeated on the Jungfrau, at an altitude of 3457 meters. This experiment was indeed carried out by Georg Joos and reproduced the Michelson-Morley result, which Erwin appeared not to have expected. At one time he was prepared for the experiment to have been done by Tomaschek, a physicist in the same Heidelberg department as Phillip Lenard, a rabid anti-semite

In Autumn, he wrote the first part of Meine Weltansicht giving his philosophy of life.

In December, he submitted a paper On Einstein's Gas Theory (Physikalische Zeitschrift). He used the method of evaluating statistical probablities developed by Charles Darwin and Ralph Fowler in 1922 and used them to derive Einstein-Bose gas statistics.

In 1925, he had corresponded with Einstein suggesting an error in Einstein's new ideas in the subject of gas degeneracy, but Einstein 'put him right'. A following letter from Einstein with new ideas lead Erwin to write a paper for which he requested Einstein be declared as co-author. Einstein himself declined and sent the paper to the Prussian Academy in early 1926 - it appears not to have contained anything of practical use.

In 1925, Erwin Fues had arrived as Schrödinger's assistant.

It was suggested by Debye that Erwin give a talk on the De Broglie thesis at the joint Zurich-ETH seminar. After reading it, he corresponded with Einstein in November speaking very complimentarily of it-

A few days ago I read with great interest the ingenious thesis of Louis de Broglie, which I finally got hold of...

The seminar was held at the end of November, after which Debye apparently passed some remark to the effect that De Broglie waves should have some wave equation associated with them. This is usually reported as being the incentive for Erwin to produce his wave equation. A few weeks later in the seminar, Erwin announced that he had such a wave equation. This first derivation was not published.

He spent the Christmas period of 1925/26 in Arosa, at the Villa Herwig. This is where he had stayed during his rest cure in 1922/23, and he had also spent Christmas of 1923 and 1924 there.

On 27 December, he had written to Wilhelm Wien, editor of the Annalen, stating that he was making progress on a relativistic wave equation. Unfortunately this was unable to explain the fine-structure correctly. As it turns out, this requires the spin that can be produced from the Dirac Equation.

1926

He proceeded by considered a non-relativistic situation. Six papers on Quantum Mechanics appeared in 1926 under the overall title of Quantization as an Eigenvalue Problem . He received help with the mathematics from his colleague at Zurich, Hermann Weyl - the basic theory had actually been worked out by Richard Courant and David Hilbert in their Methoden der Mathematischen Physik of 1924.

The first paper was received on January 27 1926 by the Annalen.

The second paper was received by the Annnalen on February 23. This made great use of Hamiltonian methods.

These papers were greeted by Planck and Einstein, but Wilhelm Wien addeed a note of caution - he asked how you would derive black-body radiation.

The third paper on March 18 and was titled On the Relation of the Heisenberg-Born-Jordan Quantum Mechanics to Mine. The same conclusions were drawn independently by Carl Eckart, and others.

The fourth paper on Quantum Mechanics was received by the Annalen on 10 May. It was 52 pages long and dealt with perturbation theory and its application to the Stark Effect on Balmer lines.

Lorentz while impressed by the papers pointed out that wave packets would spread out with time.

The fifth paper appeared in Die Naturwissenschaft

The sixth paper was received by the Annalen on 23 June. Here systems changing in time were considered for the first time and he stated the full Schrödinger Wave Equation for the first time

He now considered that the wave function itself really was complex. The Schrödinger Equation is derived ultimately from Newton's Law and is different from the classical wave equation which is fully second order. Oskar Klein and Walter Gordon attempted to convert the non-relativistic equation into a relativistic form by introducing second derivatives in time. All attempts to introduce electron spin lead to failure.

A 'Magnetic week' took place in Zurich from 21 to 26 June - participants included Sommmerfeld, Pauli, Langevin, Stern.

Born submitted his statistical interpretation of the wave function several days later. This lead eventually to Born and Heisenberg formulating what became known as the Copenhagen Interpretation.

In July, he went to Berlin to talk to the Berlin Physical Society on Foundations of Atomism Based on the Theory of Waves.

On 21. July he repeated his Berlin lecture before the Bayern branch of the Physical Society. Heisenberg asked him how he was to explain the photoelectric effect and black body radiation, but was strongly shouted down by Wilhelm Wien, apparently on the basis of his belief that the non-classical implications of Quantum Mechanics had now been defeated.

In August, he went to the Tirol and in September he traveled to Copenhagen to visit Bohr. While remaining an opponent of the Copenhagen Interpretation, Erwin came to understand that necessity of admitting both waves and particles. The popular story is that Schrödinger was so weakened by the discussions that, at one time, he was confined to bed but Bohr continued to press his argument at Erwin's bedside. At a later period, when Erwin continued to express his doubts about Quantum Mechanics, Gregor Wentzel replied

Schrödinger, it is most fortunate that other people believe more in your equation than you do.
1927

Linus Pauling went to Zurich in 1927 as a student of Schrödinger, although he saw little of him. Fritz London and Walter Heitler were there also.

Berlin

Before leaving for a visit to the University of Wisconsin on December 26 1926, he had heard that he was a strong candidate to succeed Max Planck at Berlin. He traveled to America on the ship de Grasse from Le Havre to New York. He was offered a position at Madison but declined. While there, he also lectured at Chicago, Iowa and Minnesota. He travelled to Pasadena and met Millikan at Caltech. Schrödinger's lecture there was preceded by one by Lorentz. On the way back, he gave a lecture at Ann Arbor and spent a week in Boston giving three lectures at M.I.T. and three at Harvard. A stay in Baltimore produced an offer of a job at John Hopkins University. His final lecture was given at Columbia. They sailed back on the Hamburg, arriving back in Zurich on 10 April.

The list of candidates to succeed Planck in the chair of theoretical physics at Berlin was impressive. Sommerfeld was ranked in first place, followed by Schrödinger, with Born as the third choice. When Sommerfeld decided not to leave Munich, the offer was made to Schrödinger. Zurich tried to 'fight back' by offering a combined professorship at ETH which would have given a salary comparable to Berlin (although with much more obligation to lecture). In the event, he went to Berlin, taking up the post on 1 October 1927 and there he became a colleague of Einstein's.

They rented a house at Cunostrasse 44 in the Grunewald.

The Fifth Solvay Conference on 'Electrons and Photons' took place from October 24 to 29, under the presidency of Hendrik Lorentz, and became dominated by a 'contest' between Einstein and Bohr.

He spent Christmas 1927 in Kitzbühel with the Junger twins (Itha and Roswitha) and their mother. In 1926, he had tutored the twins in Mathematics.

1928

In March 1928, he gave some lectures at the Royal Institution in London, which was under the directorship of William Bragg. They were later published as Four Lectures on Wave Mechanics.

1929

In February 1929, he was elected to membership of the Prussian Academy of Sciences (membership being restricted to 35 scientists). Erwin became the youngest member.

In late 1929, he visited Innsbruck and stayed with Arthur March, who had just married, to Hildegunde.

1930
At Christmas, he had an article Science and Ethics published in Die Vossische Zeitung.
1931

In 1931, he met Arthur Köstler.

1933

In 1933, the Academy denounced Einstein. Laue attempted to get this denunciation withdrawn, but gained little support. Erwin took no active role in these events, although he did cease going to the Academy around this time.

Wigner, Möglich

Oxford

Alexander Lindemann, the head of physics at Oxford University, visited Germany in the spring of 1933 to try to arrange positions in Britain for some young Jewish scientists from Germany. He had finacial backing from I.C.I. for a quota of temporary appointments which were intened to be additional to permanent posts in Britain, which were not open to German refugess (as a rule). He spoke to Schrödinger about posts for one of his assistants, Fritz London, and was surprised to discover that Schrödinger himself was interested in leaving Germany. Schrödinger also asked for a colleague from Innsbruck, Arthur March, to be offered a post as his assistant. As it turned out, Fritz London was later dismissed and he joined Erwin at Oxford (he had worked with Erwin in Zurich and followed him to Berlin).

To understand Schrödinger's request for March we must digress a little and comment on Schrödinger's liking for women. His relations with his wife had never been good and he had had many lovers with his wife's knowledge. Anny had her own lover for many years, Schrödinger's friend Weyl. Schrödinger's request for March to be his assistant was because, at that time, he was in love with Arthur March's wife Hilde.

Later in 1933, he was unable to visit his wife's mother for her 70th. birthday, by virtue of a 1000 mark fee imposed on Austrian visas - a technicality classified him as German rather than Austrian. This appears to have finally galvanized him into planning to leave Deutschland. He arranged for the contents of his house to be sent to Switzerland, while planning also to travel with Anny to the South Tirol.

Many of the scientists who had left Germany spent the summer of 1933 in the South Tirol. Max Born appeared to have been the first to leave and come here, at Selva Gardena, and he invited Erwin to visit him there (Grödnertal, Wolkenstein). Hermann Weyl had resigned from Göttingen and went there also. The Schrödingers traveled thru Switzerland and met with Pauli in Zurich on the way. They actually stayed in Bressanone/Brixen, 40 km away from Born. This was the birthplace of March, whose was there with Hilde. Shortly after Hilde became pregnant with Schrödinger's child.

Lindemann came to Lake Garda in early September.He was able to inform Erwin that the offered post in Oxford was for two years and the salary, although uncertain at the time, was hoped to be similar to that of a professor.

They traveled to Oxford via the St. Gotthard Pass and Paris, for a scientific meeting there. Then the 7th. Solvay Conference took place from October 22 to 29, devoted to 'Structure and Properties of Atomic Nuclei', under the presidency of Paul Langevin. Erwin took little part in the proceedings.

On 4 November 1933 Schrödinger, his wife and Hilde March arrived in Oxford. They stayed originally at 12 Northmooor Road, before moving (in early 1934) a short distance into no 24 Northmoor Road. The Marches moved into 86 Victoria Road. Schrödinger had been elected a fellow of Magdalen College, whose Master was George Gordon, Professor of Poetry. Schrödinger, Dirac, Heisenberg receive their  Nobel Prizes

During his formal welcome to Oxford on 9 November, Schrödinger heard that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize, jointly with Paul Dirac. He received the prize on 10 December, in Stockholm. He gave a formal Nobel lecture on December 12 entitled The Fundamental Idea of Wave Mechanics.

In 1933, Eugene Wigner and Frederick Seitz solved Schrödinger's Equation for Sodium.

1934

In the spring of 1934 Schrödinger was invited to lecture at Princeton and he left on March 8 on the President Harding, returning on April 13. While there he was offered a permanent position, although originally their first choice had been Heisenberg and Erwin had only been invited to America as a sort of 'second choice'. On his return to Oxford he negotiated about salary and pension conditions at Princeton but in the end he did not accept. It is thought that the fact that he wished to live at Princeton with Anny and Hilde both sharing the upbringing of his child was not found to be acceptable. The fact that Schrödinger openly had two wives, even if one of them was married to another man, did not go down too well in Oxford either, but his daughter Ruth Georgie Erica was born there on 30 May 1934.

In the Summer of 1934, he visited the International University of Verano in Santander, and also Madrid. In Spring 1935, he returned to Spain for a holiday, apparently inspired by his previous visit.

1935

Schrödinger formulation of the Born-Infeld theory of 1934.

In June 1935, Adolf Hitler sent him a letter thanking him for his services, on the occasion of his formal resignation from Berlin University.

In May 1935, Erwin recorded a series of talks for the BBC called Equality and Relativity of Freedom.

In the May 15 issue of Physical Review, Einstein had a paper called Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality be Considered Complete?, co-authored with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. This is known as the EPR paper, to which Schrödinger reacted vigorously.

As a follow on from the EPR paper, Erwin published an essay in Die Naturwissenschaften with the title The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics in which Schrödinger's cat appears. This was a thought experiment where a cat in a closed box either lived or died according to whether a quantum event occurred. The paradox was that both universes, one with a dead cat and one with a live one, seemed to exist in parallel until an observer opened the box.

A sentient being in the box called 'Wigner's Friend' was invoked to try and counteract the Cat paradox.

Further developments were made later by Hugh Everett.

The ICI grants were due to expire at the end of 1936. An exception was made for Schrödinger, who was given a two year extension. However Arthur and Hilde March returned to Innsbruck with 'their' daughter. He had been considering an offer from Madrid University but the Spanish Civil War put paid to that. He expressed interest in a job in Graz which he knew was coming up. He visited Austria in 1935, staying in Graz with Kohlrausch

1936

In March, Bohr came to London, where he met Erwin.

In 1936 Schrödinger was offered the chair of physics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as successor to Charles Darwin, grandson of the famous man of the same name. He may have accepted that post but for a long delay in obtaining a work permit from the Home Office. While he was waiting he received an offer from the University of Graz (with an associate post at Vienna) via the efforts of Hans Thirring, which he accepted. Born was then offered the Edinburgh post which he quickly accepted.

There is an alternative story to the above, nameley that he did indeed travel to Einburgh to speak with Whittaker, the Head of the Mathematics Department, but Whittaker decided that Schrödinger was not the right person and/or Schrödinger objected to the high lecturing load expected of a Scottish professor. Whittaker had been Astronomer Royal of Ireland from 1906-12 and was in a position to recommend Schrödinger to De Valera for his proposed Institute of Advanced Studies, which Whittaker thought would be ideal for him.

Graz

Erwin began at the University of Graz (the Karl Franzen University) on October 1 1936. They rented a house at Merangasse 20. The University was actually known as a hotbed of Nazism, with allegedly half the students being supporters.

1937

On June 1, he was inducted into the new Pontifical Academy of Sciences in a formal ceremony in Rome.

Erwin was invited to a meeting of the Societa Italiana di Fiscia, held at Bologna from October 18 to 21. which was officially held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Luigi Galvani. Erwin gave a talk on Eddington's Theory of the World.

In December, he sent a paper called Proper Vibrations of Spherical Space to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

1938

He sent a paper The Many Valuedness of the Wavefunction for inclusion in a special edition of Annalen to celebrate Max Planck's 80th birthday.

In February, Schuschnigg sent troops to Graz to oppose the Nazis. On March 1, the Nazi leader, Seyss-Inquart came to address a rally in Graz. On March 11, Schuschnigg resigned, leading to the German takeover, the Anschluss.

The Germans soon renamed the university as Adolf Hitler University. The Rabbi of Graz was thrown in the river. Viktor Hess, Nobel Prize winner in 1936, was dismissed as a supporter of Schuschnigg, but he was able to move to America.

At one stage, it was rumoured that Erwin had been sent to a concentration camp. By virtue of the fact that Erwin was still a fellow of Magdalen College, Lindemann used his influence to try and get the British government to investigate. He was promised that enquiries would be made via the British Ambassador in Berlin, Neville Henderson, who was a strong supporter of Adolf Hitler.

Schrödinger wrote a letter to the University Senate, on the advice on the new Nazi rector, Hans Reichelt, saying that he had:-

... misjudged up to the last the true will and the true destiny of my country. I make this confession willingly and joyfully...

The letter was also published in the newspapers. It was a letter he was to regret for the rest of his life. He attempted to explain to Einstein in a letter written about a year later: "I wanted to remain free - and could not do so without great duplicity".

On April 23, he was in Berlin for a celebration of Max Planck's 80th. birthday at the Harnack House of the German Physical Society. On arriving back in Graz, he found he had been sacked from his appointment in Wien.

His job in Graz was not affected immediately. But along with the University's renaming, it became a center of Nazi education and training (most of the staff left at the end of the war, but within a few years most had returned).

On 26 August 1938 he was dismissed from his post in Graz for 'political unreliability' (his Emeritus status at Berlin was also abolished soon after). He went to consult an official in Vienna who told him that he must get a job in industry and that he would not be allowed to go to a foreign country.

There is a school of thought that this was a message to the effect that he was going to be allowed to leave the country, but it wasn't understood that way by Erwin.

He had previously been approached about a job in Dublin via a network of which Professor Daer of Zurich was a link. The Schrödingers were able to get a message back to Baer that he was interested.

Within three days they had got ready to leave the country, although leaving most of their possessions behind. They took the train to Rome, Italy being the only country they were able to travel to, and were soon lodged in the Papal Academy, within the Vatican Gardens, thanks to the assistance of Fermi (Schrödinger being a member of the Academy anyway).

They did send a letter to Eamonn De Valera as President of the Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva. Two days later, he was contacted by De Valera and requested to meet him in Geneva. The Irish Embassy to the Vatican lent them a small amount of money (one pound) and also gave them tickets to Geneva. De Valera offered to arrange a job for him in Dublin in the new Institute for Advanced Studies he was trying to set up.

Hans Thirring had been sacked almost straight away. Hermann Mark managed to escape by bribing a prominent Nazi.

The Catholic Church had greeted Hitler by ordering all the Catholic churches to fly swastika flags and to ring their bells. The Lutherans ordered services of thanksgiving in all churches. The American Secretary of State welcomed the Anschluss, but a couple of days later Roosevelt issued a condemnation.

Oxford/Gent

At the begining of October 1938, the Schrödingers re-appeared in Oxford.

Franz Simon

He stayed with John Whitehead.

In November, he went briefly to Dublin to discuss plans for the new Institute of Advanced Studies. On his return, he found an offer of a one year appointment at the University of Gent, courtesy of the Francqui Foundation, which he accepted immediately. They arrived in Belgium just before Christmas.

In Spring they moved from Gent to La Panne (Sentier de Lapins 7).

He came to know Georges Lemaitre at Louvain. In July 1939, he sent a letter to Nature on The Nature of the Nebular Red Shift. He stated that the Red Shift detected by Hubble was due to the expansion of the Universe, it was not actually a Doppler Shift. At the end of August 1939, he sent a paper Proper Vibrations of the Expanding Universe to Physica. This gave the first indication that an expanding Universe may require the creation of matter. If it is expanding at a linear rate, this does not occur, but if accelerating (as most models do), then it could happen. This appears to be a basis for the 'Steady State Theory'.

Dublin

Schrödinger arrived in Dublin on October 6 1939. De Valera had to negotiate a safe passage thru Britain because by then they were classed as 'aliens'. The bill to establish the Institute had been introduced to the Dail in July, and was still progressing. A draft was given out in March 1940.

They moved into 26 Kincora Road, Clontarf to the north of Dublin.

One of his friends there (possibly closest friend) was Patrick Browne, a priest who was professor of mathematics at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, moving to be President of University College, Galway.

1940

His first paper had been presented in December 1939 and was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy in February 1940. Most of his papers were to be published in this journal - eventually the volume of papers emanating from the Institute was tp produce difficulties for this journal. The first paper was entitled A Method of Determining Quantum Mechanical Eigenvalues and Eigenfunctions

On April 1 1940, he was appointed to a temporary professorship with the Royal Irish Academy, while the plans for the Institute were still proceeding.

The bill to set up the Institute finally passed all its stages on June 19. It was located at Nos. 64 and 65 (the Physics building was named Teach Hamilton/Hamilton House) Merrion Square, previously used for government administration. The Chair of the Council was Patrick Browne. The first meeting of the Governing Board of the School of Theoretical Physics was held on November 21. Erwin was appointed Director of the School. Others present were Patrick Browne, Eamonn de Valera, William McCrea Professor of Mathematics, Belfast University), Francis Hackett (UCD), A.J. McConnell, Arthur Conway; Whittaker sent his apologies. The Registrar, Domhnall McGrianna, was also present.

Walter Heitler was offered a junior professorship. He had worked with Erwin in Zurich and with Born in Göttingen. Latterly, he had been interned on the Isle of Man and had done some work at Bristol University.

The first major seminar at the Institute was held from July 16 to 29, on meson theory. Participants came from all over Ireland, including Paul Ewald from Belfast (Paul's son Arnold had been interred and shipped out to Australia in the notorious Dunera).

1942

The Institute attracted some criticism for seeming to give substance to the 'general belief' that De Valera was a top-rate mathematician and was only happy in the company of eminent mathematicians.

In April, it was attacked in the Irish Times by Myles na Gopaleen (pen name of Brian O'Nolan) in his column Cruiskeen Lawn.

Talking of this notorious Institute (Lord, what would I give for a chair in it with me thousand good-lookin' pounds a year for doing 'work' that most people regard as an interesting recreation), talking of it, anyway, a friend had drawn my attention to Professor O'Rahilly's recent address on 'Paladius and Patrick'. I understand also that Professor Schroedinger has been proving lately that you cannot establish a first cause. The first fruit of the Institute, therefore, has been an effort to show that there are two St. Patricks and no God. The propagation of heresy and unbelief has nothing to do with polite learning, and unless we are careful this Institute of ours will make us the laughing stock of the world.

The reference to Professor O'Rahilly refers to his ststement (as a member of the Division of Celtic Studies) that the current figure of St. Patrick was a conflation of two separate historical figures.

Under the ludicrous libel laws inherited from the British, this article was judged to be eligible for legal action. A payment of 100 pounds damages was made out-of-court and the Council demanded that Myles desist from ever mentioned the Institute again. The Irish Times agreed to this (for some reason). Nevertheless, Myles and Erwin became friendly acquaintances and most sources seem to stress that Erwin had no part in taking action.

The first major colloqium took place from July 17 to 26. Among the participants were Dirac, Eddington, Ernest Walton. Eddington spoke on The Combination of Relativity Theory and Quantum Theory and Dirac on Quantum Electrodynamics. Myles na Gopaleen was inspired by Eddington's remark that less than a hundred people in the world could discuss relativity theory intelligently. He proposed that its study should be introduced into Irish schools and taught in the Irish language. Then instead of being 'illiterate in two languages', school children could be 'illiterate in four dimensions'.

1943

His first paper on Unified Field Theory appeared in January - The General Unitary Theory of Physical Fields was read before a meeting of the Academy. He appears to have been the first to use the acronym GUT.

He gave a series of three lectures at Trinity College under the title 'What is Life', i.e. on a biological theme. These were later written up and expanded upon as a book of the same name.

1945

Erwin had a dispute with the registrar and resigned as Director. The position was given to Heitler from 1946.

VE Day resulted in a riot at Trinity College when some people objected to the hoisting of a Union Jack. The resulting disturbances lasted for several days.

After Hiroshima, he was inspired to derive and solve the equation calculating the critical mass required for a nuclear explosion (now known as the Peierls equation).

1946

In 1946 he appear to attack the topic of Unified Field Theory anew and renewed his correspondence with Einstein on the topic.

In March, Pauli came from Princeton

In July, he traveled to Cambridge.

Hermann Brück, Astronomer Royal Dunsink

1947

In January 1947 he believed he had made a major breakthrough in Unified Field Theory. He read a paper at the Royal Irish Academy on 27 January entitled The Final Affine Laws. Schrödinger presented it to the Academy and to the Irish press as an epoch-making advance. The Irish Times carried an interview with Schrödinger the next day in which he said:-

This is the generalization. Now the Einstein Theory becomes simply a special case... I believe I am right, I shall look an awful fool if I am wrong.

Einstein, however, realised immediately that there was nothing of merit in Schrödinger's 'new theory'

Before he received Einstein's opinion, he was attempting to offer an explanation for the 'exagerated' newspaper reports. Soon afterwards, Einstein stopped corresponding on the subject and no communication between the two was made at all for three years.

In the hard times after the war, the Institute received a fair amount of criticism. A report in the Irish Independent sums up the general feeling of these critics

There are some people in this country whose minds can never rise from the level of practical finance into the realms of theoretical physics. For all we know there may be some who are so lowbrow and so selfishly concerned with the vulgar problems of dry bread and wet turf that they do not even know what theoretical physics and cosmic physics are. Of one thing we feel sure - that Irish is not a compulsory subject in these schools, for any such rule would be a discourtesy to the miniature League of Nations which labors for dark Rosaleen, at dark Rosaleen's expense of course, in this modest seat of learning.

1948

On February 17, he became a citizen of Ireland.

In February, he delivered four lectures on Nature and the Greeks, which were written up in a book.

In Summer, while Erwin and Anny were in England, Kate Nolan grapped her daughter from Lena Lean, the nanny. Erwin never saw his daughter again.

In August they stayed at the Portmeirion Horel and then rented a chalet nearby called 'The Blue Dragon'. They met and socialized with Bertrand Russell who was staying at the hotel.

The Eight Solvay Congress was held from September 27 to October 2. No German scientists were invited (i.e. none actually living in Deutschland). Erwin took little part in the proceedings.

1949

For the first time since 1923, he published no papers in this year.

Heitler left for Zurich University. New staff included Walter Thirring who eventually took over his father's old position in Wien. Erwin became Acting Director.

On May 12, Erwin was elected to the Royal Society of Britain.

Also in May, he recorded a talk for the BBC in their series Frontiers of Science. His subject was Free Will and Mechanical Causation.

1950

One day, Janossy disappeared and turned up in Budapest as head of a new cosmic ray institute. This caused a sensation at the time.

Erwin recorded two talks for the BBC on The Future of Understanding.

He spent the winter term at the University of Innsbruck, where he stayed until March 1951. He was able to meet with his daughter, Ruth. He was asked by the University whether he would consider a permanent position there to which he said yes. However, in April 1953, after apparently lengthy correspondence on the matter during which agreement seemed to have been made, he received a letter informing him there were no vacancies in Innsbruck (this is quite an unusual story because previously even the President of Austria, Karl renner, had been active in trying to encourage Schrödinger to return to Austria). He spent further time in Austria at later dates. He became a regular attendee of the summer conferences held in Alpbach.

1952

Cornelius Lanczos came as a visiting professor. He eventually became Director.

1955

His last major paper was written with Ludvik Bass and was entitled Must the Photon Mass be Zero?

In June, he traveled to italy to give a few lectures and then holidayed in Alps and the Tirol. Here he heard of his appointment to the University of Wien.

Notes : Dublin Walter Thirring, Otto Hittmair.

Return to Wien

They left Dublin on March 23 1956. He gave his inaugural lecture on April 13 on The Crisis of the Atomic Concept. They found a flat at Pasteurgasse 4 .

On September 30 1958, Erwin became Professor Emeritus at the University.

He wrote his last book, part 2 of Meine Weltansicht, which appeared in 1961, expressing his own metaphysical outlook.

1000 Schilling Note

Glossary

Balmer Formula

Broglie Equation

Davisson-Germer Experiment demonstates electron diffraction. At the same time, George P Thomson (son of JJ Thomson) carried out, with Alexander Reid, similar experiments in Scotland, with the same conclusion. Unkowingly, Clinton Davisson and Charles Kunsmann had already detected diffraction but they called it the Ramsauer Effect and attributed it to other reasons. In 1927, Davisson carried out similar, but more directed, experiments in collaboration with Lester Germer.

Franck-Hertz Experiment striking evidence for quantization of the energy of atoms.

Schrödinger Time-Independent Equation

The psi were called field scalars by Erwin. The equation has acceptable solutions only for certain values of En, called Eigenvalues.

Quantum Numbers

Stern Gerlach

References


 
 
 
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