Good News On This Day in History

95 years ago, Erwin Schrödinger published his theory of wave mechanics, a significant landmark in the development of quantum theory that won him the Nobel Prize.

Raised in Austria, but Irish after emigration, the physicist’s theory is known as the Schrödinger equation, and provided a way to calculate the wave function of a system and how it changes dynamically in time—the quantum counterpart of Newton’s second law in classical mechanics. (See the equation on his tombstone.)

He was the author of many works on various aspects of physics and made several attempts to construct a unified field theory. He is also known for his Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, whereby two possible outcomes occur simultaneously—co-existing as a combination of multiple states corresponding to different choices.

In his book What Is Life? Schrödinger addressed the problems of genetics, looking at the phenomenon of life from the point of view of physics. He paid great attention to the philosophical aspects of science, though the lens of ancient philosophy and oriental concepts, ethics, and religion. He called himself an atheist. However, he had strong interests in Eastern religions and pantheism, and he believed his scientific work was a philosophical approach to the godhead, but in an intellectual sense. (1926)

(Photo credit of gravestone: Victor Blacus, CC license)

MORE Good News on This Day:

  • The University of Georgia was founded as the first state-chartered public university in the US—and it opened for students six years later (1785)
  • Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was born in England (1832)
  • 60 nations signed the Outer Space Treaty to ban nuclear weapons there (1967)
  • Paris Peace Accords officially ended the Vietnam War (1973)
  • Japan successfully linked 2 islands with the world’s longest subaqueous tunnel measuring 33.5 miles / 53.9 km (1983)
  • The National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress enshrines their first selections (2003)
  • Kathleen Wynne was named by the Liberal Party of Ontario to become Canada’s first openly gay Premier (2013)

On this date in 2010, Steve Jobs announced Apple would soon unveil the iPad tablet, fulfilling his publicly stated goal from a quarter century earlier “to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and computers.”

Also, 265 years ago today, the musical genius child prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria. By the age of five he was already prolific on the piano and violin and performing his original compositions for European royalty.

An inspiration for Beethoven, who was 15 years younger, Mozart composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, chamber, operatic, and choral music, before his death at age 35. The thin, small man, “except for his large intense eyes, gave no outward signs of genius.” Some of his most renowned works were operas, such as The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. You are probably familiar with Mozart melodies, even without realizing it. From the 1984 film called Amadeus, which won 8 Academy Awards, a short clip on YouTube shows an amused Mozart playing a piece composed by an inferior rival musician in the court. (1756)

And, 133 years ago today, the National Geographic Society was founded as a a club for academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel—and they met at the private Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

The group’s second president, Alexander Graham Bell (who patented the first telephone), along with the Grosvenor family, devised a successful marketing strategy of ‘Society membership’ and they decided to use of photography to tell stories in magazines. Still headquartered in DC today, the nonprofit funds scientific exploration, runs a major museum, and sponsors popular traveling exhibits, such as the King Tut collection, The Cultural Treasures of Afghanistan, and China’s Terracotta Warriors—all in the last decade. However, the Society is best known for its media arm, which includes the magazine (published in nearly 40 languages), maps, and Nat Geo on the web and TV serving people beyond its 6.8 million paying members. (1888)

And, 77 years ago today, the Siege of Leningrad in Russia was ended after 872 days; the stranglehold by the German blockade during World War II was broken allowing food and fuel to reach the city now called St. Petersburg. After the last road to the city was severed in 1941, the largest loss of life ever known in a modern city followed, with water, energy and food shortages resulting in the deaths of up to 1.5 million soldiers and civilians—and the evacuation of 1.4 million women and children. (1944)

Also, 76 years ago today, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration and death camps were liberated by the Soviet Red Army in Poland. In commemoration, today is honored as International Holocaust Memorial Day adopted by the United Nations, UK, Germany, Poland, and Denmark.

Courtesy of memorial

More than 200 Auschwitz survivors from all over the world will return to the location, which is now a memorial and museum. A delegation of 120 survivors from the US, Canada, Israel, Australia, and several European countries took part in the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the camp’s Liberation thanks to the support of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation from New York City. (1945)

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