Google Doodle Celebrates Austrian Physicist Erwin Schrödinger

Patricia Didelot - Author

Aug. 12 2013, Updated 12:48 p.m. ET

You might have noticed another one of those Google doodles that occasionally show up when you log in. Today marks what would have been Erwin Schrödinger’s 126th birthday.

But who was this man that is immortalized on the most used search engine in the world along with … cats?

The Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize winner was born August 12, 1887 and is famous for being the founder of quantum physics.

You might be asking yourself what the cats are doing in the doodle.

They are there to explain his famous thought experiment known as “Schrödinger’s Cat” proposed to help explain quantum mechanics.

The “Schrödinger’s Cat” experiment consists of a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source which are placed on a sealed box.

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If an internal monitor detects radioactivity, the flask is shattered and releases poison, which kills the cat.

The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics concludes that after a time, the cat is alive and dead at the same time, yet when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either dead or alive, but not both.

This poses the question: When exactly superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other?

Even though the experiment was only in Schrödinger’s imagination similar principles have been applied in practical applications.

The Austrian physicist worked with Albert Einstein for a period of time and also developed what is known as Schrödinger’s wave equation.

This was an important discovery in the field of wave mechanics for which he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Physics with British physicist P.A.M. Dirac.

Some of Schrödinger’s favorite things in life, other than physics were skiing, swimming, skating, and mountain climbing, according to Time Magazine.

Watch this short video which explains “Schrödinger’s Cat””

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Today’s Google doodle honoree, Erwin Schrödinger, died of Tuberculosis on January 4, 1961.


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