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A Life of Erwin Schrödinger (Canto original series) [Abridged] [Paperback]

Walter J. Moore
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Aug 1994 Canto original series
Erwin Schrödinger was a brilliant and charming Austrian, one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, and a man with a passionate interest in people and ideas. He was best known for the discovery of wave mechanics, which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics, but his most influential book What Is Life? served to attract some of his brightest scientific contemporaries into molecular biology.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Abridged edition (26 Aug 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521469341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521469340
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,052,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'The best book available today on the life and work of Schrödinger.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'It is an attempt to analyze a soul, and in that respect it surpasses even The Double Helix by James Watson in its examination of the most visceral drives of a great scientist.' The New York Times Book Review

'A bestseller among scientific biographies.' Science

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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting life 6 Nov 2011
By Risto
Verified Purchase
As an interested outsider to physical sciences, I wanted to learn about this remarkable theoretician. I found the book well worth a read. Schrödinger's personal life was unconventional and spans a dramatic phase in history. The book increased my understanding of his work and theoretical ideas.

As criticisms: Given all the interesting elements surrounding Schrödinger's life, the book still manages to be a bit dull at times. Also, I would have liked to learn even more about the theory.
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What are the paths of development through which a creative person, and particularly a scientist, arrives at creations and discoveries that reshape the landscape of human possibility? How do these intertwined paths of possibility interact with the totality of the person's life?

These are the organizing questions of Walter Moore's A Life of Erwin Schrödinger, an iconic figure in understanding the world of the atom and the conditions of scientific knowledge, who also catalyzed the discovery of the helical structure of DNA, Within this book, the domestic and the erotic, the politics of work and the vicissitudes created by national and international politics, within the context of an international European scientific culture, comes alive, The dialogue between Germany, Austria and Denmark, in the pioneering figures in the early and mid twentieth century rethinking of the foundations of physics as a description of the underlying physical structure of the universe, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Weiner Heisenberg, Max Born, and others,against the background of dialogues with Albert Einstein and his work, in the periods during, betweenand shortly after the two World Wars, lives again through the imaginative recreation of Walter Moore, a biographer clearly in love with his subject.

This biography defines itself through elegant prose, through an imaginative and critical sensitivity to the development of Schrödinger's mental universe.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Mind: Erwin Schrodinger 23 July 2008
This is a canto version (an imprint offering) of a more detailed work on the biography Erwin Schrödinger by the same author. If there is some way I could rate this book as five star plus, then I would love to do that. This is a very well researched book by an author who makes a passionate presentation of the mind and work of one of the greatest physicists of 20th century. Erwin Schrodinger is an enigmatic figure, a brilliant scientist, philosopher, poet and a humanist who lead a complex personal life; several love affairs allowed and approved by; his wife Annemarie, and husbands of his girlfriends. The author has examined and reviewed many archived materials from Schrodinger's family, friends, and universities/academic institutions who knew Schrödinger. The reader becomes fascinated by sheer brilliance, wisdom, sadness, and struggle in personal and professional life of Schrödinger.

Schrodinger was deeply philosophical in his thoughts than any other scientist of his time, but he apparently did not make far-reaching philosophical conclusions from his work in quantum physics. He was held back because he knew there was a lack of clarity. Schrödinger was deeply influenced by the thoughts of Schopenhauer, and developed strong interest in Buddhist philosophy and Vedanta (one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy.) Schrodinger intensively studied the works of Schopenhauer, Henry Warren, Max Welleser, Richard Garbe, Paul Deussen, Max Muller, and Rhys Davids to understand Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. Erwin's interest in Vedanta and Upanishads started at a young age when he was accustomed to cold hungry time in war-torn Vienna.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is unbelievable 8 Mar 2001
By Muzaffer Muctehitzade - Published on Amazon.com
Yes it is unbelievable, not the book itself but the life of Schrodinger. This book is the abridged version of the original from same publisher at three times of the cost of this book. What you are missing is the theoretical part of his physics. Book basically covers his personal life with touch and go to Physical concepts. You do not get the ideas, how he developed the wave mechanics and other new concepts. What is striking is his life story, his running after fourteen years old teenagers, sleeping with his best friends wife or his wife sleeping with his best friends son, what a life, I could not believe. This was a schoking book for me, I, with my naivete perhaps did not expect such a behavior from a nobel lauriete and all the famous physisict of his time who knew about it and accepted him as he was. If he lived now he would have been in jail for child malestation. book is basically about his personal life from one love story to another which by the way at the conclusion of each love story he discovers something. if you want to read more about his life together with his physics, this is not the book, you need to read the original.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinting biography of a great scientific genius 31 Oct 2003
By Pichierri Fabio - Published on Amazon.com
I bought the hardbound edition (1989) of this book in a 2nd hand bookshop in Tokyo. As soon as I started reading it my interest for the life of this great scientist of the 20th century increased dramatically and I couldn't stop my reading. Two points are worth telling you about Schroedinger's life. The first is about the hardships that he had to face during most of his life. He joined the Austrian-Hungarian army during WW1, survived the war and continued his research. The second is about his relationships with women that catalysed his genius. This is not so surprising and is a characteristic often seen in those creative individuals who contribute very greatly to the advance of human knowledge (in this case we are talking about quantum mechanics and the meaning of life - see his book "What is Life"). Moore's book reports also the contents of many letters that Schroedinger exchanged with his great collegues (Einstein, Bohr, Pauli, Born, etc.). From these letters we can grasp some of the feelings that Schroedinger felt during his original scientific work. I did not read yet other biographies about Schroedinger and, hence, I cannot compare this book to others on the same subject. All I can say is that this book conveyed to me the information necessary to better comprehend the life of this famous scientist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy, Science and Heart of Erwin Schrödinger 6 Feb 2011
By Toyin Adepoju - Published on Amazon.com
A Life of Erwin Schrödinger (Canto original series)What are the paths of development through which a creative person, and particularly a scientist, arrives at creations and discoveries that reshape the landscape of human possibility? How do these intertwined paths of possibility interact with the totality of the person's life?

These are the organizing questions of Walter Moore's A Life of Erwin Schrödinger, an iconic figure in understanding the world of the atom and the conditions of scientific knowledge, who also catalyzed the discovery of the helical structure of DNA, Within this book, the domestic and the erotic, the politics of work and the vicissitudes created by national and international politics, within the context of an international European scientific culture, comes alive, The dialogue between Germany, Austria and Denmark, in the pioneering figures in the early and mid twentieth century rethinking of the foundations of physics as a description of the underlying physical structure of the universe, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Weiner Heisenberg, Max Born, and others,against the background of dialogues with Albert Einstein and his work, in the periods during, betweenand shortly after the two World Wars, lives again through the imaginative recreation of Walter Moore, a biographer clearly in love with his subject.

This biography defines itself through elegant prose, through an imaginative and critical sensitivity to the development of Schrödinger's mental universe.Schrödinger's immersion in the Indian monistic philosophy of Vedanta in dialogue with Western philosophers like Arthur Schopenhaur and philosophers of science like Ernst Mach, as these intertwine with the cross-fertilization between scientific ideas, between methods of scientific investigation and the figures who develop them, as these are integrated and transformed in the crucible of Schrödinger's intelligence, are seamlessly described, The reader seems to live in the biographical figure and to experience Berlin, Vienna, Oxford and the United States with Schrödinger, as he moves between these places in the course of his professional development and to experience with him the relationship between his career and personal life and the political forces reshaping Europe at the dawn of the latest stage in Western political history.

Schrödinger emerges as a consummate philosopher scientist, whose seminal impact extends from his primary discipline of physics to his avocation in biology, shaping the thinking of James Watson, one of the discovers of the helical structure of DNA, through his book What is Life?, where the fundamental description of the genetic code is worked out with pregnant clarity.

The Cambridge UP Canto edition provides a smooth, easy read that brings out these sterling qualities but the sheer wealth of the book suggests that reading the unabridged version, Schrödinger: Life and Thought , where these qualities would emerge more fully will be very rewarding .

I read selections of this book in order to explore the question of similarities between methods of scientific modelling and philosophical conceptions described by the Nigerian philosopher Abiola Irele. These similarities emerge from Irele's exposition of the Negritude philosophy of Leopold Sedar Senghor in his The African Experience in Literature and Ideology and The Negritude Moment: Explorations in Francophone African and Caribbean Literature and Thought and of Orisa cosmology in "The African Scholar."

Senghorian philosophical cosmology and Schrödinger's scientific thought are related through the image of waves as demonstrating fundamental relationships between forms of being. What can the similarities between the Senghorian philosophical conception and Schrödinger's scientific concept of wave mechanics as describing the fundamental character and behaviour of sub atomic forms demonstrate about the implications of convergences between philosophical, religious and scientific cosmology?

Niels Bohr and Weiner Heisenberg eventually developed a conception of complementarity in which material forms demonstrate both the qualities of a wave and a particle, the wave-particle duality. This notion of ontological simultaneity may be related to the idea of epistemological mutuality in quantum mechanics in the idea that the observer of these forms influences their behaviour, making impossible an understanding of these forms as independent of the influence of the observer. What illumination could this provide in suggesting a cohesive picture of the universe in dialogue with philosophical and religious cosmologies that emphasise plurality of being and cognitive dynamism where observer and observed shape each other's responses? This question is suggested by Irele's description in "The African Scholar" of a possible correlation between mythic, philosophical and scientific cosmologies that foreground ambiguity, plurality and dynamism as embodied in the ambiguity and dynamism of the mythic figure of the Orisa tradition Esu who demonstrates temporal, material and cognitive ambiguities, transformations and liminalities.

"He throws a stone today and hits a bird yesterday. If he was not so tall, his head might not have been visible above the path. House, verandah and field are constricting for him, but in a groundnut shell, at last he can stretch himself! ".
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Mind: Erwin Schrodinger 23 July 2008
By Rama Rao - Published on Amazon.com
This is a canto version (an imprint offering) of a more detailed work on the biography Erwin Schrödinger by the same author. If there is some way I could rate this book as five star plus, then I would love to do that. This is a very well researched book by an author who makes a passionate presentation of the mind and work of one of the greatest physicists of 20th century. Erwin Schrodinger is an enigmatic figure, a brilliant scientist, philosopher, poet and a humanist who lead a complex personal life; several love affairs allowed and approved by; his wife Annemarie, and husbands of his girlfriends. The author has examined and reviewed many archived materials from Schrodinger's family, friends, and universities/academic institutions who knew Schrödinger. The reader becomes fascinated by sheer brilliance, wisdom, sadness, and struggle in personal and professional life of Schrödinger.

Schrodinger was deeply philosophical in his thoughts than any other scientist of his time, but he apparently did not make far-reaching philosophical conclusions from his work in quantum physics. He was held back because he knew there was a lack of clarity. Schrödinger was deeply influenced by the thoughts of Schopenhauer, and developed strong interest in Buddhist philosophy and Vedanta (one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy.) Schrodinger intensively studied the works of Schopenhauer, Henry Warren, Max Welleser, Richard Garbe, Paul Deussen, Max Muller, and Rhys Davids to understand Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. Erwin's interest in Vedanta and Upanishads started at a young age when he was accustomed to cold hungry time in war-torn Vienna. His search for the truth never reached conclusion as his one time lover Hansi Bauer noted, but his belief in Vedanta remained the same since 1920 until his death. He was a life long believer of Vedanta. He lashed out Christian churches accusing them of gross superstition in their belief of individual souls.

Quantum physics has tremendous philosophical implications, which revolutionized modern thought in science and philosophy because it did not agree with the philosophy of materialism expounded by Newton. Interpretation of quantum world suggested that strict determinism and predictability is not an accurate description of reality, and consciousness is an integral part of the laws of quantum physics. In other words, the human observer (biological system) and the observed (rest of the universe) is not merely a biological (cognition) phenomenon but more than that. One can not actually derive the Schrödinger wave equation from classical physics. It is a justification and hence the final equation is used to calculate the energy levels that fit the experimental results such as the observed UV spectra of a hydrogen atom. Schrodinger developed relativistic equation first and then the non-relativistic equation. The relativistically framed (without spin) equation did not agree with the experimental result because it did not include electron spin. It was not known at that time that electron has a spin. This equation was good for a particle with no spin and it was the same as fine structure formula of Sommerfeld.

According to Vedanta; there exists only one universal being called the Brahman, which comprises all of reality in an undivided unity. This being absolutely homogeneous in nature: It is pure thought, which is not an attribute but the substance devoid of any qualities. The Brahman is associated with a power or a principle of illusion called Maya. As a magician creates illusion during his act, Brahman through Maya creates the appearances of the material world. Maya is the cause of the material world, and an indivisible Brahman is present in all forms of existence. The soul in reality is an infinite Brahman enmeshed in the unreal world of Maya. The unenlightened soul is incapable of looking beyond this illusion, but an enlightened soul knows the difference between its true self and the external illusory world thus paving the way for identifying itself with Brahman. This unity and continuity concept of All in One expounded in Vedanta is consistent with quantum physics where the universe is superimposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. The existence of Heisenberg uncertainty phenomenon and quantum Zeno effect is an allegory to the illusions of Maya or a prelude to the indivisible, All in One, Supreme Brahman. This intense philosophical debate was taking place in the mind of young Erwin in the midst of discovering wave mechanics! Nov 1925 to Dec 1926 is a critical period for the development wave mechanics. Erwin's thought process was so upbeat that his creative power peaked during this period and remains without parallel in the history of science!

In personal life; Erwin had contempt for Nazis but never openly criticized the regime. Schrodinger left Berlin 1933 to protest Nazi regime, in the same year he was awarded Nobel Prize with Paul Dirac. At one time he considered a faculty position at Tata Institute (Indian Institute of Science) in Bangalore, India at the invitation of Nobel laureate C.V. Raman. Erwin's love interests include a long list of women; Felice Krauss, Lotte Rella, Ithi Junger, Hansi Bauer-Bohm, Hilde March, Sheila May Green, Kate Nolan, Betty Dolan, Lucie Rie, and maids of Vienna during war years. He had two daughters Ruth and Linda from his lovers. Hilde March, wife of physicist Arthur March, with whom he had a daughter was his pseudo-wife living side by side with wife Annemarie under the same roof. It is ironic that the personal stress associated with his daring extra martial affairs unperturbed by the pressures of the society, and sadness created by financial problems and deaths of his parents and the terrible guilt that ensured due to his inability to do more to care them may have helped rather than hindered his creativity. In a letter of 1930, he recalls how his father's death on the Christmas Eve of 1919 left little cheer in his soul for the festive season throughout his life. This demonstrates the emotional and human side of Erwin; the deaths of his parents shook his consciousness and left him with tremendous pain and loss. Schrödinger's life is filled with drama and sadness caused by several failed romances; three illegitimate children, infidelity, two wives, nervous breakdown of his wife Annemarie, and some of his lovers, and his own illness due to various health problems, and constant displacement due to war and the Nazi regime. Yet his contributions to mankind are immortal. At the end of the book you feel like crying at the triumph and tragedies of this great human being.

1. Schrödinger: Life and Thought
2. What Is Life?: with "Mind and Matter" and "Autobiographical Sketches"
3. My View of the World
4. 'Nature and the Greeks' and 'Science and Humanism' (Canto original series)
5. Erwin Schrödinger's World View : The Dynamics of Knowledge and Reality (Theory and Decision Library A:)
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 30 Dec 2013
By Grace - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This was a book on my husbands wish list and he was surprised to see it. He hasn't read it yet but since it was on his list I'm sure he will love it. Out of all the books he got for xmas this is the first one he is reading.
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