Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Erwin Schrödinger Quotes

Thumbnail of Erwin Schrödinger (source)
Erwin Schrödinger
(12 Aug 1887 - 4 Jan 1961)

Austrian theoretical physicist.

Science Quotes by Erwin Schrödinger (12 quotes)

Bohr's standpoint, that a space-time description is impossible, I reject a limine. Physics does not consist only of atomic research, science does not consist only of physics, and life does not consist only of science. The aim of atomic research is to fit our empirical knowledge concerning it into our other thinking. All of this other thinking, so far as it concerns the outer world, is active in space and time. If it cannot be fitted into space and time, then it fails in its whole aim and one does not know what purpose it really serves.
— Erwin Schrödinger
Letter to Willy Wien (25 Aug 1926). Quoted in Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1989), 226.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (20)  |  Atom (164)  |  Niels Bohr (35)  |  Empiricism (13)  |  Failure (55)  |  Knowledge (662)  |  Life (439)  |  Physics (153)  |  Purpose (62)  |  Research (358)  |  Space And Time (4)  |  Thinking (163)

Every complete set of chromosomes contains the full code; so there are, as a rule, two copies of the latter in the fertilized egg cell, which forms the earliest stage of the future individual. In calling the structure of the chromosome fibres a code-script we mean that the all-penetrating mind, once conceived by Laplace, to which every causal connection lay immediately open, could tell from their structure whether the egg would develop, under suitable conditions, into a black cock or into a speckled hen, into a fly or a maize plant, a rhododendron, a beetle, a mouse or a woman. To which we may add, that the appearances of the egg cells are very often remarkably similar; and even when they are not, as in the case of the comparatively gigantic eggs of birds and reptiles, the difference is not so much in the relevant structures as in the nutritive material which in these cases is added for obvious reasons.
But the term code-script is, of course, too narrow. The chromosome structures are at the same time instrumental in bringing about the development they foreshadow. They are law-code and executive power?or, to use another simile, they are architect's plan and builder's craft-in one.
— Erwin Schrödinger
What is Life? (1944), 21-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (45)  |  Architect (4)  |  Beetle (5)  |  Bird (54)  |  Builder (5)  |  Cause (117)  |  Cell (83)  |  Chromosome (13)  |  Cock (2)  |  Code (8)  |  Copy (6)  |  Development (117)  |  Egg (27)  |  Executive (2)  |  Fertilization (11)  |  Fly (28)  |  Foreshadow (2)  |  Hen (2)  |  Individual (54)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (45)  |  Mouse (16)  |  Narrow (9)  |  Plan (39)  |  Plant (93)  |  Reptile (13)  |  Similarity (14)  |  Simile (3)  |  Structure (101)  |  Structure (101)  |  Woman (33)

From all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics. And that not on the ground that there is any 'new force' or what not, directing the behavior of the single atoms within a living organism, but because the construction is different from anything we have yet tested in the physical laboratory.
— Erwin Schrödinger
What is Life? (1956), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Law (269)  |  Life (439)  |  Organism (66)  |  Physics (153)

I belong to those theoreticians who know by direct observation what it means to make a measurement. Methinks it were better if there were more of them.
— Erwin Schrödinger
Quoted in Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1989), 58-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Direct (9)  |  Measurement (108)  |  Observation (256)  |  Theoretician (5)

If you cannot?in the long run? ell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.
— Erwin Schrödinger
Science quotes on:  |  Doing (25)  |  Telling (16)  |  Worthless (8)

In this communication I wish first to show in the simplest case of the hydrogen atom (nonrelativistic and undistorted) that the usual rates for quantization can be replaced by another requirement, in which mention of 'whole numbers' no longer occurs. Instead the integers occur in the same natural way as the integers specifying the number of nodes in a vibrating string. The new conception can be generalized, and I believe it touches the deepest meaning of the quantum rules.
— Erwin Schrödinger
'Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem', Annalen der Physik (1926), 79, 361. Trans. Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1989), 200-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Case (15)  |  Communication (37)  |  Hydrogen (23)  |  Integer (3)  |  Requirement (26)  |  Simplicity (92)  |  String (11)  |  Vibration (9)

Science is a game—but a game with reality, a game with sharpened knives ... If a man cuts a picture carefully into 1000 pieces, you solve the puzzle when you reassemble the pieces into a picture; in the success or failure, both your intelligences compete. In the presentation of a scientific problem, the other player is the good Lord. He has not only set the problem but also has devised the rules of the game?ut they are not completely known, half of them are left for you to discover or to deduce. The experiment is the tempered blade which you wield with success against the spirits of darkness—or which defeats you shamefully. The uncertainty is how many of the rules God himself has permanently ordained, and how many apparently are caused by your own mental inertia, while the solution generally becomes possible only through freedom from its limitations.
— Erwin Schrödinger
Quoted in Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1989), 348.
Science quotes on:  |  Blade (3)  |  Competition (17)  |  Cut (13)  |  Darkness (9)  |  Deduction (38)  |  Defeat (5)  |  Discovery (354)  |  Experiment (367)  |  Failure (55)  |  Freedom (41)  |  Game (27)  |  Inertia (6)  |  Intelligence (72)  |  Knife (6)  |  Limitation (8)  |  Mind (266)  |  Picture (19)  |  Piece (12)  |  Presentation (9)  |  Problem (178)  |  Reality (62)  |  Rule (50)  |  Science (850)  |  Sharp (5)  |  Solution (109)  |  Spirit (52)  |  Success (110)  |  Uncertainty (23)

The great revelation of the quantum theory was that features of discreteness were discovered in the Book of Nature, in a context in which anything other than continuity seemed to be absurd according to the views held until then.
— Erwin Schrödinger
What is Life? (1944), 48.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (8)  |  Book (94)  |  Context (7)  |  Continuity (17)  |  Discovery (354)  |  Feature (14)  |  Nature (524)  |  Quantum Theory (35)  |  Revelation (24)  |  View (48)

The task is ... not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.
— Erwin Schrödinger
Quoted in L. Bertalanffy, Problems of Life (1952).
Science quotes on:  |  Everybody (4)  |  See (41)  |  Task (31)  |  Thought (168)

Why are atoms so small? ... Many examples have been devised to bring this fact home to an audience, none of them more impressive than the one used by Lord Kelvin: Suppose that you could mark the molecules in a glass of water, then pour the contents of the glass into the ocean and stir the latter thoroughly so as to distribute the marked molecules uniformly throughout the seven seas; if you then took a glass of water anywhere out of the ocean, you would find in it about a hundred of your marked molecules.
— Erwin Schrödinger
What is life?: the Physical Aspect of the Living Cell (1944). Collected in What is Life? with Mind And Matter & Autobiographical Sketches (1967, 1992), 6-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Audience (5)  |  Distribution (15)  |  Example (21)  |  Glass (19)  |  Illustration (16)  |  Impressive (2)  |  Baron William Thomson Kelvin (23)  |  Mark (13)  |  Molecule (80)  |  Ocean (54)  |  Size (18)  |  Small (31)  |  Stir (5)  |  Water (116)

[A living organism] ... feeds upon negative entropy ... Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness (= fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.
— Erwin Schrödinger
What is Life? (1944), 73-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Device (14)  |  Entropy (25)  |  Environment (70)  |  High (12)  |  Level (16)  |  Maintain (10)  |  Negative (10)  |  Orderliness (2)  |  Organism (66)  |  Stationary (2)

[Plato] was the first to envisage the idea of timeless existence and to emphasize it—against reason—as a reality, more [real] than our actual experience…
— Erwin Schrödinger
Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Existence (145)  |  Plato (27)

Quotes by others about Erwin Schrödinger (6)

The electron, as it leaves the atom, crystallises out of Schrödinger's mist like a genie emerging from his bottle.
Gifford Lectures (1927), The Nature of the Physical World (1928), 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Electron (43)

Schrodinger's wave-mechanics is not a physical theory but a dodge—and a very good dodge too.
Gifford Lectures (1927), The Nature of the Physical World (1928), 219.
Science quotes on:  |  Quantum Mechanics (15)  |  Theory (345)

But, contrary to the lady's prejudices about the engineering profession, the fact is that quite some time ago the tables were turned between theory and applications in the physical sciences. Since World War II the discoveries that have changed the world are not made so much in lofty halls of theoretical physics as in the less-noticed labs of engineering and experimental physics. The roles of pure and applied science have been reversed; they are no longer what they were in the golden age of physics, in the age of Einstein, Schrödinger, Fermi and Dirac.
'The Age of Computing: a Personal Memoir', Daedalus (1992), 121, 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (68)  |  Applied Science (16)  |  Paul A. M. Dirac (32)  |  Discovery (354)  |  Albert Einstein (155)  |  Engineer (32)  |  Fact (311)  |  Enrico Fermi (11)  |  Laboratory (75)  |  Physical Science (31)  |  Physics (153)  |  Prejudice (29)  |  Profession (23)  |  Pure Science (7)  |  Reverse (6)  |  Role (17)  |  Theoretical Physics (11)  |  Theory (345)  |  World War II (5)

In 1944 Erwin Schroedinger, stimulated intellectually by Max Delbruck, published a little book called What is life? It was an inspiration to the first of the molecular biologists, and has been, along with Delbruck himself, credited for directing the research during the next decade that solved the mystery of how 'like begat like.' Max was awarded this Prize in 1969, and rejoicing in it, he also lamented that the work for which he was honored before all the peoples of the world was not something which he felt he could share with more than a handful. Samuel Beckett's contributions to literature, being honored at the same time, seemed to Max somehow universally accessible to anyone. But not his. In his lecture here Max imagined his imprisonment in an ivory tower of science.
'The Polymerase Chain Reaction', Nobel Lecture (8 Dec 1993). In Nobel Lectures: Chemistry 1991-1995 (1997), 103.
Science quotes on:  |  Accessible (3)  |  Samuel Beckett (2)  |  Book (94)  |  Contribution (23)  |  Credit (10)  |  Decade (8)  |  Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück (8)  |  Honour (19)  |  Inspiration (28)  |  Intellect (95)  |  Ivory Tower (2)  |  Life (439)  |  Literature (32)  |  Mystery (71)  |  Nobel Prize (17)  |  Publication (75)  |  Research (358)  |  Share (9)  |  Simulation (4)  |  Work (186)

When [Erwin Schrödinger] went to the Solvay conferences in Brussels, he would walk from the station to the hotel where the delegates stayed, carrying all his luggage in a rucksack and looking so like a tramp that it needed a great deal of argument at the reception desk before he could claim a room.
Quoted in Robert L. Weber, Pioneers of Science: Nobel Prize Winners in Physics (1980), 100.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (26)  |  Biography (198)  |  Conference (5)  |  Desk (5)  |  Reception (5)  |  Room (11)  |  Station (6)  |  Walk (23)

His [Erwin Schrödinger's] private life seemed strange to bourgeois people like ourselves. But all this does not matter. He was a most lovable person, independent, amusing, temperamental, kind and generous, and he had a most perfect and efficient brain.
Max Born
In My Life, Recollections of a Nobel Laureate (1978), 270. Quoted by Walter Moore, Schrödinger: Life and Thought (1992), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Amusement (14)  |  Biography (198)  |  Brain (105)  |  Efficiency (15)  |  Generosity (3)  |  Independence (19)  |  Kindness (5)  |  People (72)  |  Perfect (14)  |  Temperament (3)

See also:
  • todayinsci icon 12 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Schrödinger's birth.
  • book icon Schrödinger: Life and Thought, by Walter J. Moore. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Custom Quotations Search - custom search within only our quotations pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Author Icon
who invites your feedback

Today in Science History

Most Popular

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

New Book

The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets,
by Simon Singh

Cleverly embedded in many Simpsons plots are subtle references to mathematics, because the show's brilliant comedy writers with advanced degrees in math or science. Singh offers an entirely new insight into the most successful show in television history.