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Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist whose groundbreaking wave equation changed the face of quantum theory.
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Born on August 12, 1887, in Vienna, Austria, Erwin Schrödinger went on to become a noted theoretical physicist and scholar who came up with a groundbreaking wave equation for electron movements. He was awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with British physicist P.A.M. Dirac, and later became a director at Ireland's Institute for Advanced Studies. A published author with works like What Is Life?, he died on January 4, 1961, in his home city.
"A real elimination of metaphysics means taking the soul out of both art and science, turning them into skeletons incapable of any development."
"I have been intensely concerned these days with Louis de Broglie's ingenious theory. It is extraordinarily exciting, but still has some very grave difficulties."
Erwin Schrödinger was born on August 12, 1887, in Vienna, Austria, the only child of botanist and oil cloth factory owner Rudolf Schrödinger and Georgine Emilia Brenda, daughter of Alexander Bauer, Rudolf's professor of chemistry at the Technical College of Vienna (Technische Hochschule Vienna). Erwin was taught at home by private teachers until he was 11 years old, and then attended Vienna's Akademisches Gymnasium. He went on to enter the University of Vienna, where he focused primarily on the study of physics and was strongly influenced by another young physicist, Fritz Hasenöhrl, and graduated with a Ph.D. in physics in 1910. Afterward, he worked for a few years at the institution as an assistant, but was drafted into World War I in 1914, serving with Austro-Hungarian military forces in Italy as an artillery officer.
Upon returning to civilian life, Schrödinger married Annemarie Bertel in 1920. He also took on a number of faculty/staff positions at places like the University of Stuttgart, the University of Jena and the University of Breslau, before joining the University of Zurich in 1921.
Erwin Schrödinger's tenure as a professor at Zurich over the next six years would prove to be one of the most important periods of his physics career. Immersing himself in an array of theoretical physics research, Schrödinger came upon the work of fellow physicist Louis de Broglie in 1925, which sparked his interest in explaining that an electron in an atom would move as a wave, contrary to de Broglie's belief. The following year, he wrote a revolutionary paper that highlighted what would be known as the Schrödinger wave equation.
Following the atomic model of Niels Bohr and a thesis from de Broglie, Schrödinger articulated the movements of electrons in terms of wave mechanics as opposed to particle leaps. He provided a mode of thought to scientists that would become accepted and incorporated into thousands of papers, thus becoming an important cornerstone of quantum theory. Schrödinger made this discovery in his late 30s, with most theoretical physicists sharing groundbreaking finds in their 20s.
In 1927, Schrödinger left his position at Zurich for a new, prestigious opportunity at the University of Berlin, where he met Albert Einstein. He held this position until 1933, opting to leave upon the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party and the related persecution of Jewish citizens. Shortly after joining the faculty of Oxford University in England, Schrödinger learned that he had won the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing the award with another quantum theorist, Paul A.M. Dirac.
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