Archive for Erwin Schrödinger

Schrödinger’s Theatre

Posted in Education, History, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 21, 2022 by telescoper

Although it’s relatively old news in Ireland, a colleague recently sent me a story from Physics World about Trinity College Dublin’s decision to change the name of its Schrödinger Lecture Theatre (to the Physics Lecture Theatre). The Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars and the other members of Board, of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin (to give it its proper title) took this decision in the light of revelations about Erwin Schrödinger‘s predatory sexual conduct towards very young girls.

According to my careful research carried out by reading his Wikipedia page, Schrödinger never actually worked at Trinity College Dublin; the Theatre in question was named in his honour after he delivered his famous lectures on What is Life there in 1943.

Reactions to the decision to rename the Theatre have generated a wide range of reactions from physicists and non-physicists alike. For my part I think it is the right decision. As the Physics World article states:

As an educational institute, we cannot condone or glorify someone who abused the trust between teacher and student.

Jonathan Coleman, Head of School Physics TCD

To me this is quite different from attaching Schrödinger’s name to his equation or even his cat. His unsavoury conduct should not mean that his scientific achievements should be “cancelled” . These are and should continue to be recognized through terms like Schrödinger’s Equation. As far as I am aware, however, Schrödinger did not build any lecture theatres.

It’s up to Trinity to decide what to call its rooms, of course, but that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to have opinions about the decision. I’d therefore invite you to express yours through the following poll:

Of course if you wish to expand on your opinion you may do so through the box below.