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Schrödinger: Life and Thought
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent biography of the delightfully unconventional Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger.

Some say that deValera's hidden agenda in setting up the Institute of Advanced Studies in Dublin was with the express intention of spiriting Schrodinger out of wartime Germany and safely to Ireland.

Schrodinger was the originator of wave mechanics in Quantum Mechanics (QM). His clever idea was to use the Hamiltonian in deriving it. Kudos to him.

Many people are under the impression that he accepted the probabilistic interpretation of QM - but that was not so. To his dying day he believed, like Einstein, that Nature was not a crapshoot. No dice need be involved, thank you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 1 August 2009
I was impressed by the freshness of Moore's writing and his diligence in unearthing the daily life of Erwin Schrodinger over so many years. What do you make of a guy who spent his life falling in love easily with so many women and then seducing them? A man who in his forties suffers what Moore euphemistically calls a 'Lolita complex'? He ends up with three daughters, none by his wife, who he remains married to until the end. At least the girls got good intellectual genes.

Schrodinger was no friend to the concept of 'bourgeois marriage', and it might be argued in these enlightened times that he was doing nothing wrong. However, his lifelong self-centred and adolescent attitude to relationships led to collateral damage to many (not all) of the woman with whom he involved himself. Typically it was the younger or less well-educated who were left holding the baby, or worse.

His work was mostly blindingly competent in the spirit of mathematical physics. A strong visualiser, he was close in philosophy to Einstein and had little patience with the Bohr-Born interpretation of his wave equation. His culture, approach, techniques and beliefs all seem curiously dated now, but this was a first rate scientific biography.

This version of the book has the physics as well as the sex. The level is not particularly daunting ... first degree in physics or maths is fine.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2008
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.
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on 12 July 2014
A brilliant book in every way, covering thoroughly and judiciously the physics and life of Schrodinger as well as placing both in historical context. Yes, at first sight the physics and mathematical equations may make this appear a specialist academic tome only of interest to mathematical physicists. But the math may be skipped around. The remainder gives a fascinating insight to the scientific networks and historical background against which the quantum revolution was worked out. The author writes in a straightforward, lucid style, scientific but including at suitable points nice references (for the literate) to, for example, Goethe, Virgil and Shakespeare (not to mention Schrodinger's own ditties). A compelling, highly recommended read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2009
Of all those who have walked this Earth, none can deny that Erwin Schrodinger must rank as one of the greatest geniuses of all time. He developed wave mechanics, the inspired discovery which revolutionized quantum mechanics. He derived both the non-relativistic and relativistic versions of his Schrodinger wave equation - the foundations of modern quantum mechanics. He also proved that the mathematical result arrived at by both wave and matrix mechanics was identical, thereby unifying quantum mechanics into a coherent whole. In short, Schrodinger helped us come closer to understanding the true nature of atoms and subatomic particles than perhaps anyone before or after him. His work made it possible for DNA to be discovered and for molecular biology to develop into the vibrant field that it is today. His discoveries are also relevant to the study of consciousness thanks to their applications to the 'Quantum Mind Theory'.

In the light of these great facts about Erwin Schrodinger, one would expect a considerably excellent effort to be made on any biography written about him. This is the case here. The author has written a thoroughly detailed and accurate account of the scientist's personal and professional life. All of his discoveries are described and explained in understandable language (the author is a research scientist himself). Care is also taken to emphasise the passion that Schrodinger had regarding his quest to find answers to seemingly insurmountable mathematical and physical questions.

Overall, this is a great and fitting book about the greatest of scientists.
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