What is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches

Cambridge University Press, 31.01.1992 - 184 Seiten
Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. A distinguished physicist's exploration of the question which lies at the heart of biology, it was written for the layman, but proved one of the spurs to the birth of molecular biology and the subsequent discovery of the structure of DNA. The philosopher Karl Popper hailed it as a 'beautiful and important book' by 'a great man to whom I owe a personal debt for many exciting discussions'. It appears here together with Mind and Matter, his essay investigating a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times. Schrodinger asks what place consciousness occupies in the evolution of life, and what part the state of development of the human mind plays in moral questions. Brought together with these two classics are Schrödinger's autobiographical sketches, published and translated here for the first time. They offer a fascinating fragmentary account of his life as a background to his scientific writings, making this volume a valuable additon to the shelves of scientist and layman alike.

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Nutzerbericht  - Razinha - LibraryThing

"We must therefore not be discouraged by the difficulty of interpreting life by the ordinary laws of physics." Such an understatement. And what an intellect! Schrödinger's book made the New Scientist ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

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Nutzerbericht  - nosajeel - LibraryThing

I had been meaning to read this for a long time. The book is not nearly as exciting as it must have been in the 1940s, many of the ideas are reasonably familiar. And some of the interest one gets is ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Ausgewählte Seiten


The Classical Physicists Approach to the Subject
The Hereditary Mechanism
The QuantumMechanical Evidence
Delbrucks Model Discussed and Tested
Order Disorder and Entropy
Is Life Based on the Laws of Physics?
On Determinism and Free Will
The Physical Basis of Consciousness
The Future of Understanding
The Principle of Objectivation
The Arithmetical Paradox The Oneness of Mind
Science and Religion
The Mystery of the Sensual Qualities


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Seite 1 - A Scientist is supposed to have a complete and thorough knowledge, at first hand, of some subjects and, therefore, is usually expected not to write on any topic of which he is not a master.

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Über den Autor (1992)

Born and educated in Vienna, Erwin Schrodinger received his Ph.D. in 1910 from the University of Vienna. He developed the theory of wave mechanics (1925--26). For this theory, which furnished a solid mathematical explanation of quantum theory, Schrodinger shared the Nobel Prize in 1933 with Paul Dirac. Schrodinger was dissatisfied with Niels Bohr's early quantum theory of the atom, objecting to the many arbitrary quantum rules imposed. Building on Louis-Victor De Broglie's idea that a moving atomic particle has a wave character, Schrodinger developed a famous wave equation that describes the behavior of an electron orbiting the nucleus of an atom. When applied to the hydrogen atom, the equation yielded all the results of Bohr and De Broglie, and was also used as a tool to solve a wide range of new problems in which quantization occurs. In 1927 Schrodinger succeeded Max Planck at the University of Berlin but resigned in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. He left then for England, becoming a guest professor at Oxford University. In 1936 he returned to Austria, but then fled in 1938 under the threat of Nazi arrest and was invited to Dublin's newly established Institute for Advanced Studies. He remained there from 1940 until his retirement in 1956, when he returned to his native Austria and to the University of Vienna, where he held his last chair in theoretical physics. In 1944 Schrodinger published What Is Life? The Physical Aspects of a Living Cell, a book that had a tremendous impact on a new generation of scientists. The book directed young physicists who were disillusioned by the Hiroshima bombing to an unexplored discipline free of military applications---molecular biology. Schrodinger proposed the existence of a molecular code as the genetic basis of life, inspiring an entire generation to explore this idea.

Born in England, the son of a geneticist, Roger Penrose received a Ph.D. in 1957 from Cambridge University. Penrose then became a professor of applied mathematics at Birkbeck College in 1966 and a Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University in 1973. Penrose, a mathematician and theoretical physicist, has done much to elucidate the fundamental properties of black holes. With Stephen Hawking, Penrose proved a theorem of Albert Einstein's general relativity, asserting that at the center of a black hole there must evolve a "space-time singularity" of zero volume and infinite density, in which the current laws of physics do not apply. He also proposed the hypothesis of "cosmic censorship," which claims that such singularities must possess an event horizon. In 1969 Penrose described a process for the extraction of energy from a black hole, as well as how rotational energy of the black hole is transferred to a particle outside the hole. In addition, Penrose has done much to develop the mathematics needed to unite general relativity, which deals with the gravitational interactions of matter, and quantum mechanics, which describes all other interactions.

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