Dr Erwin Schrödinger
Professor Erwin Schrödinger was a Fellow of Magdalen from 1933-1938. He was a theoretical physicist and one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. In a remarkable scientific paper of 1926 he published the Schrödinger wave equation. This equation enables the energies and properties of molecules and materials to be predicted accurately. It forms the basis for understanding many 21st century fields of science including chemistry, materials science, semiconductors, nanotechnology and molecular biology.
Schrödinger published nearly all his papers on his own and held appointments in several different European countries. He had a Chair in Berlin previously occupied by Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory. When Hitler came to power Schrödinger left Berlin and came to Magdalen to a Fellowship arranged by Lord Lindemann and President George Gordon. He was admitted as a Fellow on November 9 1933 in the President’s Lodgings and then heard he had been awarded the Nobel Prize with Paul Dirac.
In 1935 he published his ideas on particle entanglement that have recently become influential on research aiming to produce a new type of quantum computer. He moved back to his home country Austria in 1936. After the Anschluss in 1938 he escaped from Austria and took refuge in the Vatican where he was already a Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Eventually he moved to Dublin at the personal invitation of the Taoiseach, Éamon De Valera. There he spent the war and wrote an article “What is Life?” that influenced many physical scientists to work on biological problems. Schrödinger returned to live in Austria where he died in 1961. His grave is in Alpbach where his daughter Ruth, who was baptised in Magdalen Chapel in 1934, still lives.