About Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1933
Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (12 August 1887, Erdberg – 4 January 1961, Vienna) was an Austrian theoretical physicist who was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, and is famed for a number of important contributions to physics, especially the Schrödinger equation, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933.
In 1927, he succeeded Max Planck at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazis' anti-semitism. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize together with Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac.
His position at Oxford did not work out; his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women) was not met with acceptance.
In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University; he was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have posed a problem.
He had the prospect of a position at the University of Edinburgh but visa delays occurred, and in the end he took up a position at the University of Graz in Austria in 1936.
In the midst of these tenure issues in 1935, after extensive correspondence with personal friend Albert Einstein, he proposed the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment.
Schrödinger had decided in 1933 that he could not live in a country in which persecution of Jews had become a national policy. Schrödinger asked for a colleague, Arthur March, to be offered a post as his assistant with him where he went.
The request for March stemmed from Schrödinger's unconventional relationships with women: although his relations with his wife Anny were good, he had had many lovers with his wife's full knowledge (and in fact, Anny had her own lover, Hermann Weyl). Schrödinger asked for March to be his assistant because, at that time, he was in love with March's wife Hilde.
In 1939, after the Anschluss, Schrödinger had problems because of his flight from Germany in 1933 and his known opposition to Nazism. He issued a statement recanting this opposition (he later regretted doing so, and he personally apologized to Einstein). However, this did not fully appease the new dispensation and the university dismissed him from his job for political unreliability. He suffered harassment and received instructions not to leave the country, but he and his wife fled to Italy. From there he went to visiting positions in Oxford and Ghent Universities.
In early 1934 Schrödinger was invited to lecture at Princeton University and while there he was made an offer of a permanent position. 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 acceptable. The fact that Schrödinger openly had two wives, even if one of them was married to another man, was not well received in Oxford either. Nevertheless, his daughter Ruth Georgie Erica was born there on 30 May 1934.
In 1940 he received a personal invitation from Ireland's Taoiseach Éamon de Valera to reside in Ireland and agree to help establish an Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin. He moved to Clontarf, Dublin and became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics and remained there for 17 years, during which time he became a naturalized Irish citizen. He wrote about 50 further publications on various topics, including his explorations of unified field theory.
On 4 January 1961, Schrödinger died in Vienna at the age of 73 of tuberculosis.
He left a widow, Anny (born Annemarie Bertel on 3 December 1896, died 3 October 1965), and was buried in Alpbach, Austria.
Schrödinger had a long, happy, and very open marriage with Annemarie Bertel, daughter of a respected chemist. He kept a detailed log of his numerous sexual escapades, included a teen-aged girl he seduced and impregnated while acting as her math tutor. He had children by at least three of his mistresses, including a daughter by Hilde March, the wife of his colleague Arthur March, who was himself a lover of Schrödinger's wife.
Wife: Annemarie Bertel (m. 24-Mar-1920, no children)
Mistress: Hilde March (wife of Arthur March, one daughter)
Daughter: Ruth Georgie Erica (b. 30-May-1934, with Hilde)
The philosophical issues raised by Schrödinger's cat are still debated today and remains his most enduring legacy in popular science, while Schrödinger's equation is his most enduring legacy at a more technical level. The huge crater Schrödinger, on the far side of the Moon is named after him. The Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics was established in Vienna in 1993.