Article ID: CBB001024241

Analogy, Extension, and Novelty: Young Schrödinger on Electric Phenomena in Solids (2011)


The analysis of Erwin Schrödinger's first major theoretical work demonstrates his early commitment to Boltzmann's statistical--mechanical tradition, which also influenced his later contributions to quantum theory. It further reveals two central elements of his research style: The extension and modification of works by others, and the extensive use of analogies. Schrödinger extended Debye's theory of liquid dielectrics using Langevin's and Weiss's theories of magnetism, taking a formal analogy between mathematical laws of two separate phenomena as an indication for a physical analogy between them. His approach followed his commitment to scientific realism. Schrödinger attributed reality to the basic assumptions of a theory and therefore explored their consequences in various domains. For him, accordance with experimental findings proved the correctness of his assumptions. Following this methodology, Schrödinger advanced a kinetic (i.e., statistical) theory of solid dielectrics. His 1912 theory explained the behavior of solid dielectrics in an external electric field, piezoelectricity, pyroelectricity, and the change of melting temperature with pressure. It even provided a microphysical explanation for solidification itself. These explanations, however, required several rather speculative and doubtful assumptions, stemming from Schrödinger's reliance on analogy. This illustrates one of the pitfalls of the use of analogies.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Butcher. Peter; (2018)
"Todesstrahlen" - Fakt oder Fiktion? ("Death rays" - fact or fiction?) (/isis/citation/CBB554527175/)

Book Martins, Roberto A.; Boido, Guillermo; Rodríguez, Victor; (2006)
Física: Estudos Filosóficos e Históricos (/isis/citation/CBB000820179/)

Book Andrade Martins, Roberto de; (2007)
Os “raios N” de René Blondlot: Uma Anomalia na História da Física (/isis/citation/CBB000820173/)

Article Konagaya, Daisuke; (2002)
The Methodology of Planck's Radiation Theory (/isis/citation/CBB000330338/)

Article Dragoni, Giorgio; Maltese, Giulio; Atti, Luisa; (2007)
Quirino Majorana's Experiments on the Speed of Light and Gravitational Absorption (/isis/citation/CBB000850196/)

Article Rentetzi, Maria; (2004)
From Cambridge to Vienna: The Scintillation Counter in Female Hands (/isis/citation/CBB000770310/)

Article Montgomery, H. E., Jr.; Pupyshev, V. I.; (2013)
On Lower Bounds for Polarisability (/isis/citation/CBB001320786/)

Article Duncan, Anthony; Janssen, Michel; (2007)
On the Verge of Umdeutung in Minnesota: Van Vleck and the Correspondence Principle. Part One. (/isis/citation/CBB000773023/)

Article Brush, Stephen G.; (2007)
How Ideas Became Knowledge: The Light-Quantum Hypothesis, 1905--1935 (/isis/citation/CBB000700576/)

Article Paoloni, Giovanni; (2016)
Guglielmo Marconi e l’Istituto di Fisica della Regia Università di Roma. (/isis/citation/CBB827989495/)

Article Arias Vila, Nelson; Baracca, Angelo; (2006)
¿Quién propuso la fórmula de Rayleigh-Jean? (/isis/citation/CBB000930261/)

Book Jennifer Burwell; (2018)
Quantum Language and the Migration of Scientific Concepts (/isis/citation/CBB682085795/)

Article Mawhin, Jean; Ronveaux, André; (2010)
Schrödinger and Dirac Equations for the Hydrogen Atom, and Laguerre Polynomials (/isis/citation/CBB001022003/)

Article Hilgevoord, Jan; (2005)
Time in Quantum Mechanics: A Story of Confusion (/isis/citation/CBB000501568/)

Article Perovic, Slobodan; (2008)
Why Were Matrix Mechanics and Wave Mechanics Considered Equivalent? (/isis/citation/CBB000933672/)

Article D'Agostino, Salvo; (2009)
Il ‘gatto’ di Schroedinger in una lettura del testo originale del celebre saggio (/isis/citation/CBB314642805/)

Article D'Agostino, Salvo; (2004)
The Bild Conception of Physical Theory: Helmholtz, Hertz, and Schrödinger (/isis/citation/CBB000641781/)

Book Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich; (2011)
What Is Life? The Intellectual Pertinence of Erwin Schrödinger (/isis/citation/CBB001231937/)

Authors & Contributors
Peter, Butcher.
Burwell, Jennifer
D'Agostino, Salvo
Singh, Rajinder
Ronveaux, André
Rodríguez, Victor
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Physics in Perspective
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Stanford University Press
MIT Press
Associação de Filosofia e História da Ciência do Cone Sul
Electromagnetic waves; radiation
Quantum mechanics
Scientific apparatus and instruments
Philosophy of science
Electricity and Electrical Power
Schrödinger, Erwin
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Heisenberg, Werner
Dirac, Paul Adrien Maurice
Van Vleck, John Hasbrouck
Pauli, Wolfgang Ernst
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
18th century
Turin (Italy)
Cambridge (England)
Great Britain
Vienna (Austria)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment