TECH

Erwin Schrödinger Google Doodle: Search Engine Celebrates Quantum Physicist

12/08/2013 10:28 BST | Updated 12/10/2013 10:12 BST

Google is celebrating the life of physicist Erwin Schrödinger with its latest Google Doodle.

The homepage graphic marks the birthday of the Austrian Nobel prize winner, who was born in Vienna in 1887.

While Schrodinger won the prize for a stunning series of six papers, produced over a six month period of research, which led to a wave equation able to predict the energy levels of atoms.

But Schrodinger's most famous contribution to the field of physics came later in life, in 1935, when he developed his brilliant (albeit tragic) cat-in-a-box thought experiment.

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Schrodinger's Cat was designed to highlight the implausibility of the "Copenhagen interpretation" of quantum physics, in which quantum entities hold many possible values ( a 'super-position') until they are measured, and collapse into one of the possibilities.

By placing the life of a cat in a box at the mercy of one of these random, unobserved quantum events - say an atom decaying, releasing a vial of poison gas - the cat would be both alive and dead at the same time, until you looked in the box to check. The thought experiment was not intended to describe what really would occur if you tried it - though some people have tried to do that - but as a way to highlight the nonsensical nature of the Copenhagen interpretation.

Schrodinger died in 1961 after a long career, which eventually included work on thermodynamics, colour theory and genetics.