The Schrödinger Lecture
The Erwin Schrödinger Lecture is an annual event named after the noted Austrian scientist. Schrödinger was a theoretical physicist and a significant contributor to the wave theory of matter, a form of quantum physics. He mathematically devised an equation of wave mechanics that bears his name. He was a co-recipient of the 1933 Nobel Prize for physics. Today he is popularly known for the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat. Image credit: "Schrodinger" by Nobel foundation / Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Speakers in the 27-year history of the lecture include Professor Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and 2001 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology winner, and Professor Stephen Hawking, from the University of Cambridge. You can watch many of the events again below.
Past lectures: watch again
Dr Jennifer Doudna
CRISPR: The Science and Opportunity of Genome Editing (2021)
Dr Doudna's groundbreaking development of CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome-engineering technology, with collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, earned the two the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and forever changed the course of human and agricultural genomics research.
Professor Sir Martin Hairer
On coin tosses, atoms and forest fires (2020)
Fields Medallist Professor Sir Martin Hairer explores some of the mathematical objects arising naturally in probability theory, as well as some of their surprising properties. In particular, he will show us how one of these objects was involved in the confirmation of the existence of atoms over 100 years ago and how new properties of related objects are still being discovered today.
Professor Michele Dougherty
The Cassini Spacecraft Mission at Saturn (2019)
Hear all about the Cassini Spacecraft Mission at Saturn’s surprising discoveries and mission results. Michele Dougherty, Professor of Space Physics and Head of Department of Physics, presents the 31st annual Schrödinger Lecture from the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
Professor David Hand
Data, data everywhere but lets just stop and think (2017)
Big data and open data hold tremendous promise. But the hype often ignores the difficulties and risks associated with this promise. Beginning with the observation that people want answers to questions, not simply data, Statistician Professor David Hand explores some of the difficulties and risks which lie along the path to finding those answers, and examines how they may be overcome.
Professor Sir Gordon Conway
Can we feed the world sustainably? (2016)
Every individual across the globe should have the right and ability to access adequate, safe, and nutritional food at all times, but achieving worldwide food security is not going to be easy. We face growing populations, changing diets, lack of good water and land, and the impact, already being felt, of climate change. We can do it using the modern tools of agroecology, crop and livestock breeding, and smallholder-centred institutions, but it needs political leadership. Sir Gordon Conway, one of the world's foremost experts on global food needs, describes the challenges we face and the tools we need to overcome them.
Professor Serge Haroche
Shedding new light on Schrödinger's cat (2014)
Quantum theory has allowed scientists to understand better the subatomic world, and led to revolutionary technologies including computers, lasers and atomic clocks. In spite of its successes, quantum physics can seem strange and counterintuitive. It describes a world in which the concepts of waves and particles are deeply intertwined; and has led to the bizarre notions of superposition, which allows particles to exist in many concurrent states until observed, and entanglement, whereby particles control the state of distant and seemingly unconnected partners within a system.
Dr Elizabeth Blackburn
End to end: telomeres and ageing (2013)
Nobel laureate Dr Elizabeth Blackburn explains how the ends of our chromosomes are linked to ageing in the 2013 Schrödinger lecture.
Professor Sir John Pendry
Metamaterials: new horizons in electromagnetism (2012)
Invisibility cloaks are just one of the potential radical uses of these new materials, as Professor Sir John Pendry explains. Recorded at Imperial College London on 06 November 2012.
Sir Paul Nurse
What is life? (2011)
In spring 1943, Nobel Prize winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger gave a series of lectures at Trinity College, Dublin. These lectures were subsequently published as the non-fiction science book 'What is life?'. Schrödinger took a physicist's approach to the question, asking whether living organisms could be understood in terms of fundamental matter. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, has credited the book as being the inspiration for his initial research. In this lecture, Nobel Prize winner and President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, also takes inspiration from the book to ask what can we now say about the nature of life?
Professor Alain Aspect
From Einstein's intuition to quantum bits: a new quantum age? (2010)
Distinguished CNRS scientist Professor Alain Aspect delivers the 2010 Schrödinger Lecture on quibits. Lecture summary: In 1935, with co-authors Podolsky and Rosen, Einstein discovered an amazing quantum situation, where particles in a pair are so strongly correlated that Schrödinger called them "entangled". By analysing that situation, Einstein concluded that the quantum formalism was incomplete. Niels Bohr immediately opposed that conclusion, and the debate lasted until the death of these two giants of physics, in the 1950's.
Professor Jim Virdee
Discovering the Quantum Universe: the Large Hadron Collider Project at CERN (2007)
Professor Tejinder ‘Jim’ Virdee, a particle physicist at Imperial and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva), delivered the 2007 Annual Schrödinger Lecture. Recorded on 21 November 2007 at Imperial College London.
Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS
"Trust me, I'm a physicist" (2006)
The weird world of quantum entanglement. Professor Sir Peter Knight FRS, delivers the 18th Annual Schrödinger Lecture. Recorded on 31 January 2006 at Imperial College London
Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Architecture in NanoSpace (2006)
Professor Sir Harold Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, presents the nineteenth Schrodinger Lecture.