Lehner, Christoph; Renn, Jürgen: Schrödinger's Way to Wave Mechanics

Schrödinger’s work that led to the publication of his six groundbreaking 1926 papers seems to follow a very simple trajectory: in the fall of 1925, Schrödinger came across de Broglie’s thesis about matter waves. He sat down, started calculating, and within a few months and a minor struggle with relativity, he presented the world with the (nonrelativistic) Schrödinger equation, which in an intuitive and simple way could do what matrix mechanics needed the brain power of half of Göttingen’s mathematics community for. Upon closer inspection, the story gets more complicated. What did Schrödinger’s interest shift so suddenly from statistical mechanics to atomic mechanics? Which (if any) of the different arguments for the transition to wave mechanics that he offered in his papers played a role in his own thinking? How did his approach relate to matrix mechanics and to earlier attempts at understanding quantum conditions from a continuum theory? What role did his ongoing struggle for a relativistic wave equation play in his thinking?
Obviously, the first place to look for answers to questions about Schrödingers way to wave mechanics are his research notes, luckily quite plentifully preserved at the Vienna Central Physics Library. Surprisingly, the existing literature about these questions has treated the notebooks in a rather cursory way. In a joint research project of the MPIWG team, we are taking a closer look at the published and unpublished material.

Lehner-Renn (Presentation)
Talk Lehner, Renn (*.mp3 audio file)