Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution

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A lively, fascinating biography of the father of quantum mechanics by the bestselling author of the science classic, In Search of Schr?dinger's Cat

Erwin Schr?dinger, best known for his famous ?Schr?dinger's Cat? paradox, is one of the most famous physicists of the early twentieth century and a member of a new generation of quantum physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and Niels Bohr. Yet Schr?dinger's scientific discoveries only scratch the surface of what makes ...

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A lively, fascinating biography of the father of quantum mechanics by the bestselling author of the science classic, In Search of Schrödinger's Cat

Erwin Schrödinger, best known for his famous “Schrödinger's Cat” paradox, is one of the most famous physicists of the early twentieth century and a member of a new generation of quantum physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and Niels Bohr. Yet Schrödinger's scientific discoveries only scratch the surface of what makes him so fascinating. More rumpled than Einstein, a devotee of eastern religion and philosophy, and infamous for his alternative lifestyle, his major contribution to physics—and the work for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1933—was to some extent a disappointment to him. Regardless, Schrödinger's masterpiece became an important part of the new physics of his time. This book tells the story of Schrödinger's surprisingly colorful life during one of the most fertile and creative moments in the history of science.

  • The first accessible, in-depth biography of the Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger
  • Takes you into the heart of the quantum revolution and explains the captivating world of quantum mechanics, which underpins all of modern science
  • Written by bestselling author John Gribbin, one of today's greatest popular science writers whose other books include In Search of Schrödinger's Cat , In Search of the Multiverse, and Alone in the Universe
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118299265
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/8/2013
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 442,426
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN GRIBBIN is one of today's most successful and prolific writers of popular science. He is the author of bestselling books, including In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, In Search of the Multiverse, and Alone in the Universe. He trained as an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and is currently a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgements xii

Introduction: It's Not Rocket Science 1

1 Nineteenth-Century Boy 7


Early years

An empire's last hurrah

Scientific stirrings

From schoolboy to undergraduate

2 Physics before Schrodinger 22

Newton and the world of particles

Maxwell and the world of waves

Boltzmann and the world of statistics

3 Twentieth-Century Man 44

Student life

Life beyond the lab

War service on the Italian front

Back to Vienna

The aftermath

The peripatetic professor

4 The First Quantum Revolution 67

When black bodies are bright

Enter the quantum

The quantum becomes real

Inside the atom

Tripping the light fantastic

Einstein again

5 Solid Swiss Respectability 91

The university and the ETH

Personal problems and scientific progress

Physics and philosophy

Life and love

My world view

Quantum statistics

6 Matrix Mechanics 112


What you see is what you get

Matrices don?t commute

Justice isn't always done

7 Schrodinger and the Second Quantum Revolution 124

Science and sensuality

Riding the wave

A quantum of uncertainty

The Copenhagen consensus

8 The Big Time in Berlin 148

Making waves in America

Berlin and Brussels

The golden years

Back to the future

People and politics

9 The Coming of the Quantum Cat 172

Back in the USA

Oxford and beyond

Faster than light

The cat in the box

From Oxford with love

10 There, and Back Again 187

Whistling in the dark

Reality bites

The unhappy return

Belgian interlude

11 The happiest years of my life? 201


Settling in

Early days at the DIAS


Life in Dublin

The post-war years

Many worlds

12 What is Life? 224

Life itself

Quantum chemistry

The green pamphlet

Schrodinger's variation on the theme

The double helix

13 Back to Vienna 243

Farewell to Dublin

Home is the hero

Declining years

The triumph of entropy

14 Schrodinger's Scientific Legacy 259

Hidden reality and a mathematician's mistake

The Bell test and the Aspect experiment

Quantum cryptography and the no cloning theorem

Quantum teleportation and classical information

The quantum computer and the Multiverse

Quantum physics and reality

Postscript: Quantum Generations 285

Notes 291

Sources and Further Reading 297

Picture Acknowledgements 305

Index 307

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    Posted July 8, 2013

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