Erwin Schrödinger

Erwin Schrodinger nsIn existographies, Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) (IQ:190|#26) [RGM:424|1,500+] (Becker 160:44) (GPE:7) [CR:224] was an Austrian physicist, noted for his 1925 Schrodinger equation, a Lagrangian-based state equation for the wave movement of an electron about an atom, for his 1935 book Science and the Human Temperament, wherein he stated his opinion that the rise of cultures is governed by the second law of thermodynamics, for his ultra-famous 1943 "What is Life?, wherein he attempted, in laymanized terms, to explain "life" in terms of physics and chemistry, a lecture-turned-book, wherein he postulated that “life feeds on negative entropy”, and followup retraction "Note to Chapter 6", wherein he had to admit to error, commenting that he he should have discussed life in terms of "free energy" in stead of entropy, in regards to the theory of life; also noted for his 1946 Statistical Mechanics book. [1] Schrodinger won the 1933 Nobel Prize for his development of the Schrodinger equation.

Influences
Schrodinger was strong influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer.

Do Electrons Think?
In 1949, Schrodinger, in his “Do Electrons Think?” BBC talk, stated the following: [9]

“Twice within two and a half thousand years there was a notable departure from the belief in the strict necessity of physical events. The first time this happened only about 150 years after Leucippus. We gather this from the didactic poem of Lucretius, who was the posthumous mouth-piece of Epicurus, who lived in the fourth century B.C. Their suggestion had no consequences, it was all but forgotten. The second time the strictly causal linkage in the chain of physical happenings was thrown into doubt was only 30 years ago by Franz Exner in Vienna. About ten years later (that is, about twenty years ago, from today [1949]) the disbelief in strict causation became part and parcel of you might call the 'new creed' now adopted by most physicists and called 'quantum mechanics'.

Both times, the alleged break-down of strict causality in the domain of physics was hailed for removing the obstacle in our understanding the spontaneity of the movements of the animals and of man—in understanding free will, as one usually calls it. Let us see whether this claim is justified.

The hypothesis, as reported by Lucretius, was very simple indeed. He just states that the atoms do swerve in a very small but entirely undetermined and unforeseeable way from the courses you would expect them to take from supposed strict physical laws. No theory of the swerves is offered. This amounts to saying that the strict laws are only figments. The actual path of a particle is to a small extent arbitrary in the neighborhood of the fictitiously prescribed path. It is not illogical to surmise that the several little arbitrarinesses of the single atoms collaborate to bring about the apparent arbitrariness in the behavior of the animals and of man. What Lucretius forgets is that he has explained nothing, he has solved no problem. He has only referred the problem back to the ultimate particles, where it has become much more difficult to grapple with. The simplest, spontaneous bodily movement, say lifting of my arm, would require the planned collaboration of billions of single atoms in their undetermined swerves, if they should bring about the integrated action.


In modern physics, the denial of strict causation is of entirely different nature, in two respects. First, there is no question of only small departures from a fictitious exact law of motion. The behavior of primal particles, as electrons for instance, or of small atomic systems composed of only a few of them, is now supposed to be undetermined and unforeseeable within a wide margin of uncertainty. It is thought that in times we have to allow a particle the choice between several entirely different courses to take. Let this for the moment be figurative speech, meaning only that nothing in the observed situation determines the course the particle actually takes. But on the other hand the situation is supposed to determine with rigorous precision the statistics of the various possible “choices.” Given the same situation over and over again, the particle will, for instance, in exactly two thirds of the cases follow one course, in one third of cases the other one; and similarly when there are more than two courses to follow.

Again, the same as 2,000 years ago, it has been suggested that this breach of strict causation leaves room for the display of the spontaneous movements in the animals and in man. Is this claim justified? I think not.”

Here, of note, we recall Gilbert Lewis' 1925 The Anatomy of Science, wherein he discusses the "
behavior of a group of electrons and the behavior of a university faculty":

Human thermodynamics
In 1935, in the context of human thermodynamics, Schrodinger, in his Science and the Human Temperament, stated the following in regards to the second law and rise of human cultures, as cited by Leslie White (1959): [3]

“We are convinced that [the second law of thermodynamics] governs all physical and chemical processes, even if they result in the most intricate and tangled phenomena, such as organic life, the genesis of a complicate world of organisms from primitive beginnings, [and] the rise and growth of human cultures.”

(add)

Life feeds on negative entropy
In popular or colloquial use, Schrodinger's cryptic "life feeds on negative entropy" postulate, might be considered as one of the most oft-quoted passages culled from the publications of thermodynamics. In extrapolation to human life, this would imply that people, in some way, feed on negative entropy (or a negative value of entropy S).
In linguistic form, Schrödinger’s postulate is similar to Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann’s 1886 postulate that “the general struggle for existence of animate beings is … a struggle for entropy”. [2]

Negative entropy and order
In terms of entropy and order, in somewhat riddled form, Schrödinger reasoned that living organisms feed on negative entropy. To begin, he states that he will “try to sketch the bearing of the entropy principle (the second law of thermodynamics) on the large-scale behavior of a living organism”. Second, he equates thermodynamic equilibrium, or what he calls “maximum entropy”, as a state in which chemical potentials are equalized, wherein systems become dead, in which no observable changes occur. To avoid decay to this hypothetical death state, Schrödinger reasons that it is not energy that living beings feed on that keeps them at bay from decay but “negative entropy”. In rephrasing this statement, he says “the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive.” In making these ball-park statements, Schrödinger calls on the statistical concept of order and disorder, connections that were revealed, as he says, by the investigations of Boltzmann and Gibbs in statistical physics. On this basis, he situates the following definition:

 \text{entropy} = k \log D \,

where k is the Boltzmann constant and D is a “quantitative measure of the atomistic disorder of the body in question”. Here, to note, he fails to mention that this expression is generally valid only for ideal gases. In any event, Schrödinger reasons that this statistical expression applies to living organisms. Moreover, to make his verbal argument mathematical, he states that “if D is a measure of disorder, its reciprocal, 1/D, can be regarded as a direct measure of order.” In addition, “since the logarithm of 1/D is just the minus of the logarithm of D, we can write can write Boltzmann’s equation thus:

 -\text{entropy} = k \log \frac{1}{D} \,

Hence, as Schrödinger states, “the awkward expression negative entropy can be replaced by a better one: entropy, taken with the negative sign, is itself a measure of order.” Thus, he concludes “the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness”, a state he equates with a low level of entropy, consists in “sucking orderliness from its environment”.

Difficulties on theory
See main: Note to Chapter 6
The basic difficulty in Schrödinger’s negative entropy theory is that he equates sustenance (metabolism) with measures of entropy. In the correct sense, sustenance is a function of substrate interactions, as studied in the field of surface chemistry. In an appended note to his thermodynamics-life chapter, however, Schrödinger states that:

“The remarks on negative entropy have met with doubt and opposition from physicist colleagues. Let me say first, that if I had been law catering for them alone I should have let the discussion turn on free energy instead. It is the more familiar notion in this context. But this highly technical term seemed linguistically too near to energy for making the average reader alive to the contrast between the two things.”

In other words, in terms of entropy as defined by Clausius, as the “amount of work the molecules of the system do on each other" (that cannot be compensated), this outline by Schrödinger makes little sense. If he had let the discussion turn on free energy, he would have been confronted with the various postulates of energy interactions between people, such as was done by Goethe in his 1809 Elective Affinities (see: Goethe's human chemistry); where before 1882, free energy was called "chemical affinity" or elective affinity.

In 1987 commentary on Schrödinger’s What is Life?, American chemical engineer Linus Pauling noted that Schrödinger was discussing a change in the entropy of the "system", he never defined the system. Pauling wrote, "Sometimes he seems to consider that the system is a living organism with no interaction whatever with the environment; sometimes it is a living organism in thermal equilibrium with the environment; and sometimes it is the living organism plus the environment, that is, the universe as a whole." Pauling wrote that Schrödinger failed to recognize the most important question: "How biological specificity is achieved; that is, how the amino-acid residues are ordered into the well-defined sequence characteristic of the specific organism." [4] Similarly, Austrian-born English molecular biologist Max Perutz argued that we live on free energy and that there was no necessity to postulate negative entropy. [5]

God | Atheism
Schrodinger was a Schopenhauer-rooted silent atheist, who similar to Einstein employed culturally loaded "oh my good lord", similar to the way many now say "OMG" stylized talk, in his speech, and sometimes in his scientific publications; the following is one example:

“When you feel your own equal in the body of a beautiful woman, just as ready to forget the world for you as you for her – oh my good lord – who can describe what happiness then. You can live it, now and again – you cannot speak of it.”
— Erwin Schrodinger (c.1940), Publications [10]

In 1944, Schrodinger, in his What is Life?, made a blurry comment about the “lord’s quantum mechanics”, when discussing chromosomes, clocks, and organisms. The following are some of his other religious-tinged comments:

“Whence came I, whither go I? Science cannot tell us a word about why music delights us, of why and how an old song can move us to tears. Science is reticent too when it is a question of the great Unity – the 'one' of Parmenides – of which we all somehow form part, to which we belong. The most popular name for it in our time is god – with a capital ‘G’. Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.”

In 1954, in his Nature and the Greeks, he states:

“I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, god and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously. In particular, and most importantly, this is the reason why the scientific worldview contains of itself no ethical values, no esthetical values, not a word about our own ultimate scope or destination, and no god, if you please. Whence came I and whither go I?”

Other comments in his collected quotes fall along these lines. [8] One example of which is: [7]

“I shall quite briefly mention here the notorious atheism of science. The theists reproach it for this again and again. Unjustly. A personal god can not be encountered in a world picture that becomes accessible only at the price that everything personal is excluded from it. We know that whenever god is experienced, it is an experience exactly as real as a direct sense impression, as real as one’s own personality. As such he must be missing from the space-time picture. ‘I do not meet with god in space and time’, so says the honest scientific thinker, and for that reason he is reproached by those in whose catechism it is nevertheless stated: ‘god is spirit’.”

This “we do not find god in spacetime”, supposedly, is reference to Schopenhauer who said on one of his works: "The world extended in space and time is but our representation." (Ѻ)(Ѻ) In other places, Schrodinger explained that he was a silent atheist, because he did not know that atheism was a thing to be proud of:

“I never realized that to be nonbelieving, to be an atheist, was a thing to be proud of. It went without saying as it were.”
— Erwin Schrodinger (c.1940), Publications [10]

“Our creed is indeed a queer creed. You others, Christians (and similar people), consider our ethics much inferior, indeed abominable. There is that little difference. We adhere to ours in practice, you don't.”
— Erwin Schrodinger (c.1940), Publications [10]

Here, we can think of Daniel Scargill, who famously said: “there is a desirable glory in being and being reputed an atheist”.

References
1. (a) Schrödinger, Erwin. (1944). What is Life? (ch. 6 “Order, Disorder, and Entropy", pgs. 67-75). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
(b) What is Life? (1944 book in word doc download).
(c) Schrödinger’s scripture "What is Life?" was based on a course of public lectures delivered under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, in February 1943 and published in 1944.
2. Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One) (preview), pg. 87. Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
3. (a) Schrodinger, Erwin. (1935). Science and the Human Temperament (thermodynamics, 4+ pgs; quote, 47). George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.
(b) White, Leslie A. (1959). “Energy and Tools”, in: The Evolution of Culture: the Development of Civilization and the Rise and Fall of Rome (pg. 39), McGraw-Hill; in: Readings for a History of Anthropological Theory (editors: Paul A. Erickson and P.A.E. Liam D. Murphy) (§23, pgs. 293-310; quote, pg. 297). University of Toronto Press, 2010.
4. Pauling, Linus. (1987). "Schrödinger's contribution to chemistry and biology", pp. 225–233 in Schrödinger: Centenary Celebration of a Polymath, edited by C. W. Kilmister. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
5. Perutz, Max. (1987). “Erwin Schrödinger's What Is Life? and molecular biology”, pp. 234–251 in Schrödinger: Centenary Celebration of a Polymath, edited by C. W. Kilmister. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
6. (a) Ubbelohde, Alfred René. (1954). Man and Energy: Illustrated (pg. 184). Hutchinson's Scientific & Technical Publications.
(b) Schrödinger, Erwin. (1944). What is Life? (pg. 85). Cambridge University Press.
7. Schrodinger (quotes) – GoodReads.com.
8. Erwin Schrodinger – Wikiquote.
9. Schrodinger, Erwin. (1949). “Do Electrons Think?” (Ѻ)(Ѻ), BBC talk.
10. Moore, Walter. (1994). A Life of Schrodinger (pgs. 289-90). Cambridge.

Further reading
● Schrödinger, Erwin. (1946). Statistical Thermodynamics. New York: Dover

External links
Erwin Schrodinger – Wikipedia.

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