The Schrödinger and Upanishads Connect

The Schrödinger and Upanishads Connect

The world of Quantum physics is indeed magnetic. The more you delve deeper, the more things you would want to know about the universe and its working. That’s how the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger tried to understand it via ancient Hindu religious-philosophical texts, Upanishads.

Crux of the Matter

What Are The Upanishads?
They are an ancient collection of philosophical-religious Sanskrit texts of India. Transmitted orally between teachers and students, they describe the nature of reality, mind, and the self.

Who Was Erwin Schrödinger?
He was a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian-Irish physicist who developed a number of fundamental results in quantum physics via the Schrödinger equation.

Quantum Physics is the science which deals with the behaviour of matter and energy on the scale of atoms and predicts the behaviour of subatomic particles or waves.

And What Did The Schrödinger Equation Say?
It describes how the wave function of a physical system evolves over time. A wave is a disturbance that moves energy from one place to another. Only energy is transferred as a wave moves. The substance that a wave moves through is called the medium. Its major implications are:
– particles can be described as waves
– quantizations of certain parameters of systems
– uncertainty principle

“Solace Of My Life, Solace Of My Death”
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said those words in his writings, that inspired Schrödinger to explore more about the Upanishads, as he was first exposed to Indian philosophy around 1918.

Brahman And Aatman
Brahman is the universal self or the ultimate singular reality. The Atman is the individual’s inner self, the soul. A central tenet of the Upanishads is tat tvam asi (Thou Art That), which means the Brahman and the Atman are identical. There is only one universal self, and we are all one with it.

The Quantum Connect With Upanishads
Quantum physics eliminates the gap between the observer and the observed while the Upanishads state that the observer and the observed are the same things.

Schrödinger’s 1944 bookWhat is Life?” ventured more deeply about many worlds created by our act of observation, when they are in reality just one. Everything we see around us is Maya, a distortion of the Brahman caused due to our ignorance and imperfect senses.

The Mind-Body Problem
The Upanishads talk about how reality arises out of consciousness, which cannot be found inside our bodies as an organ. So how does a non-material consciousness interact with and control our material bodies?

Modern Science says consciousness is a byproduct of the neurochemical processes occurring in our brain. However Schrödinger believed Upanishad’s view – consciousness exists by itself, and that the physical world depends on it.

  • Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, during the course of discussions with Albert Einstein. The scenario presents a hypothetical cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead, as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.
  • Schrödinger is one of several individuals who have been called “the father of quantum mechanics”. The Erwin Schrödinger International Institute for Mathematical Physics was established in Vienna in 1993 after him.
  • The large crater Schrödinger, on the far side of the Moon, is named after him. And Schrödinger’s portrait was the main feature of the design of the 1983–97 Austrian 1000-schilling banknote, the second-highest denomination.