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What is Life?
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  • 15 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 194 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.24 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 574/.01
  • Dewey version: 20
  • LC Classification: QH331 .S357 1992
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Biology--Philosophy
    • Molecular biology
    • Human evolution
    • Schrödinger, Erwin,--1887-1961
    • Physicists--Austria--Biography

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521427081 | ISBN-10: 0521427088)

DOI: 10.2277/0521427088

Replaced by 9781107604667

 (Stock level updated: 17:00 GMT, 06 October 2015)


Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's What is Life? is one of the great science classics of the twentieth century. A distinguished physicist's exploration of the question which lies at the heart of biology, it was written for the layman, but proved one of the spurs to the birth of molecular biology and the subsequent discovery of the structure of DNA. The philosopher Karl Popper hailed it as a 'beautiful and important book' by 'a great man to whom I owe a personal debt for many exciting discussions'. It appears here together with Mind and Matter, his essay investigating a relationship which has eluded and puzzled philosophers since the earliest times. Schrodinger asks what place consciousness occupies in the evolution of life, and what part the state of development of the human mind plays in moral questions. Brought together with these two classics are Schrödinger's autobiographical sketches, published and translated here for the first time. They offer a fascinating fragmentary account of his life as a background to his scientific writings, making this volume a valuable additon to the shelves of scientist and layman alike.


Preface; 1. The classical physicist's approach to the subject; 2. The hereditary mechanism; 3. Mutations; 4. The quantum-mechanical evidence; 5. Delbruck's model discussed and tested; 6. Order, disorder and entropy; 7. Is life based on the laws of physics? Epilogue: on determinism and free will Mind and Matter; 1. The physical basis of consciousness; 2. The future of understanding; 3. The principle of objectivation; 4. The arithmetical paradox: the oneness of mind; 5. Science and religion; 6. The mystery of the sensual qualities; Autobiographical sketches (translated from the German by Schrodinger's granddaughter Verena).


'This book is a gem with many facets … one can read it in a few hours; one will not forget it in a lifetime.' Scientific American

'Erwin Schrödinger, iconoclastic physicist, stood at the pivotal point of history when physics was the midwife of the new science of molecular biology. In these little books he set down, clearly and concisely, most of the great conceptual issues that confront the scientist who would attempt to unravel the mysteries of life. This combined volume should be compulsory reading for all students who are seriously concerned with truly deep issues of science.' Paul Davies

'… this remains a classic, written with great insight and modesty …' Human Nature Review

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