A review of Erwin-Shrodinger-and-the-Quantum-Revolution by Rob Mason

This book tells the story of Schrödinger's colorful life during one of the most fertile and creative moments in the history of science, 1887 - 1961.

John Gribbin the author, is an accomplished and prolific writer of science-oriented books for the general public, and is therefore the ideal biographer for Schrodinger's life. Mr. Gribbin writes about Schrödinger's public, private and intellectual lives and also includes details about a short book of 1944, provocatively titled "What Is Life?" In this chapter Schrodinger introduces the idea that life feeds off 'negative entropy.' This line of argument drew on Schrodinger's long-term interest in thermodynamics, which tells us that the entropy (disorder) of a closed system always increases - orded systems become disordered. Life is clearly working the other way; it seems to create order out of disorder, or in Schrodinger's words it 'evades the decay to equilibrium.' Schrodinger seems to suggest that living things take in 'negative entropy' from their surroundings in the form of food, which is an ordered state. 'The essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all entropy it cannot help producing while alive.

N.B. Definition: Classical Mechanics
Using just a few equations, scientists can describe the motion of a ball flying through the air and the pull of a magnet, and forecast eclipses of the moon. The mathematical study of the motion of everyday objects and the forces that affect them is called classical mechanics. Classical mechanics is often called Newtonian mechanics because nearly the entire study builds on the work of Isaac Newton.
Nearly all professional applied physicists still use classical mechanics; so it is still an indispensable part of any physicist’s or engineer’s education.

Definition: Quantum theory
Quantum theory is the theoretical basis of modern physics that explains the nature and behaviour of matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level. The nature and behaviour of matter and energy at that level is sometimes referred to as quantum physics and quantum mechanics.
In 1900, physicist Max Planck presented his quantum theory to the German Physical Society. Planck had sought to discover the reason that radiation from a glowing body changes in colour from red, to orange, and, finally, to blue as its temperature rises. He found that by making the assumption that energy existed in individual units in the same way that matter does, rather than just as a constant electromagnetic wave - as had been formerly assumed - and was therefore quantifiable, he could find the answer to his question. The existence of these units became the first assumption of quantum theory.

Planck wrote a mathematical equation involving a figure to represent these individual units of energy, which he called quanta. The equation explained the phenomenon very well; Planck found that at certain discrete temperature levels (exact multiples of a basic minimum value), energy from a glowing body will occupy different areas of the colour spectrum. Planck assumed there was a theory yet to emerge from the discovery of quanta, but, in fact, their very existence implied a completely new and fundamental understanding of the laws of nature. Planck won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory in 1918, but developments by various scientists over a thirty-year period all contributed to the modern understanding of quantum theory.

Classical vs. Quantum Mechanics
Classical mechanics consists of the work done in the areas of chemistry and physics prior to the 20th century. This includes the organization of the periodic table, thermodynamics; the wave theory of light and Newtonian mechanics. Quantum mechanics was born out of the inability of classical mechanics to reconcile theory with experiment.