Title: Erwin Schrodinger: The Discoverer (Inventor?) of Molecular Wave Mechanics
This talk is based on a superb recent biography of Erwin Schrodinger (Schrodinger, Life and Work, by Walter Moore, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989). The ancestry, childhood, early adulthood, and early scientific work of Erwin Schrodinger is discussed. The development of quantum theory is qualitatively traced from Max Planck and black-body radiation to Einstein and Debye's low-temperature heat-capacity work, through Neils Bohr and the interpretation of atomic spectra, to Peter Debye's suggestions to Erwin Schrodinger that substitution of the DeBroglie wavelength into a standard wave equation might lead to interesting results. The extraordinary accomplishment of Erwin Schrodinger in a Swiss Alpine Gastehaus on Christmas break 1925, spent in the company an unknown woman, in making this simple suggestion into the most powerful and in some ways disturbing physical theory known to us is described. Erwin Schrodinger was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. He was also one of this period's most interesting personalities, which also will be considered.
Audience Level: Chemists, Students, General (nontechnical)
Richard J. Field was born in Attleboro, MA. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1963, an M.S. degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1964, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Rhode Island in 1968. During 1968-74, he was a research associate with Richard M. Noyes at the University of Oregon (UO). He also was visiting assistant professor at UO (1970-73). During this time, he became interested in the Belousov-Zhasbotinsky reaction. This is the usually metal-ion-catalyzed oxidation of organic materials by BrO3-, during which the concentrations of catalyst and intermediate species oscillate in time as the overall reaction rushes toward equilibrium. Traveling waves of chemical activity (conceptually equivalent to nerve-impulse transmission and other biological processes occurring in excitable media) appear in the same system. After spending 1974-75 at the Carnegie-Mellon Radiation Laboratory, he joined the University of Montana, Department of Chemistry in 1975, where he is now professor and was chairman (1990-95). He served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame (1980) and at Universtat Wurzburg, Germany (1985-86), was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The Journal of Physical Chemistry (1989-95), and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics. Although Dick Field is a chemical kineticist and as such is interested in any chemical system not at equilibrium, his major interests are in the area of oscillating chemical reactions. This work involves not only classical kinetics and mechanism studies but also mathematical simulations, using both numerical and analytical methods, based on the systems of ordinary (time only) and partial (time and space) differential equations arising from models of oscillating chemical reactions. These systems are excellent examples of the remarkable behavior of systems maintained far from equilibrium and governed by nonlinear dynamic laws. From this work, he has developed an interest in mathematical biology, especially the mechanisms by which living organisms organize and evolve.