Erwin Schrödinger – Who let the Cat out of the Bag

Published by Gerald Ferreira Date: August 11, 2013
Categories: General News

Erwin Schrödinger 126th Birthday Google Doodle

Erwin Schrodinger


Today Monday 12th August 2013 if you visit Google you will find the Erwin Schrödinger 126th Google Doodle. Erwin Schrödinger was born on the 12 August 1887 Vienna, Austria-Hungary he had dual citizenship for both Austria and Ireland. He died at the age of 73 in Vienna, Austria on the 4th of January 1961.

Erwin Schrödinger was famous for a number of quantum theories one of these being portrait in Google’s doodle today. The Erwin Schrödinger Cat serves to demonstrate the apparent conflict between, what quantum theory tells us is true about the nature and behavior of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true about the nature and behavior of matter on the macroscopic level -- everything visible to the unaided human eye.

The Erwin Schrödinger Cat theory places a cat inside a steel chamber, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid. There is, in the chamber, a very small amount of hydrocyanic acid, a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, a relay mechanism will trip a hammer, which will, in turn, break the vial and kill the cat.

Since we cannot know, according to quantum law, the cat is both dead and alive, in what is called a superposition of states. It is only when we break open the box and learn the condition of the cat that the superposition is lost, and the cat becomes one or the other (dead or alive). This situation is sometimes called quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox: the observation or measurement itself affects an outcome, so that the outcome as such does not exist unless the measurement is made. (That is, there is no single outcome unless it is observed.)

So although the Google Doodle looks cute and very pet friendly it actually seems to portray a darker side of humanity.

The philosophical issues raised by Erwin 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. To this day, Erwin Schrödinger is known as the father of quantum physics. The large crater Erwin 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.

Erwin Schrödinger also received a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 and was also awarded the Max Planck Medal in 1937 for his contributions to modern science.