Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

January 9, 2017

Schrödinger, of cat fame, had a very open polyfamily

Erwin Schrödinger, 1887–1961
Why isn't this better known? Erwin Schrödinger, the Austrian quantum physics pioneer and discoverer of the Schrödinger wave equation who famously "fled the Nazis with his family," lived in an open polyfamily: a ménage à trois with his wife Anny Bertel and partner Hilde March. They had the blessing of March's husband, the physicist Arthur March, who was himself a lover of Anny's. Together the three raised Erwin and Hilde's daughter, Ruth March.

Despite his brilliant career, world fame, and 1933 Nobel Prize in physics, Schrödinger was apparently rebuffed at Oxford and Princeton for his unconventional home life. Eventually, in 1940, the family settled in Ireland by the grace of the Irish prime minister (a mathematician). There Schrödinger helped to establish the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and continued his career until retirement.

The article below is from a genealogy site — which pays closer attention to family history than general-purpose biographies sometimes do. Parts seem to be lifted from Schrödinger's Wikipedia entry. Both provide further references.

...In 1933, however, Schrödinger decided to leave Germany; he disliked the Nazis' anti-semitism. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. Soon after he arrived, he received the Nobel Prize together with Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac.

His position at Oxford did not work out; his unconventional personal life (Schrödinger lived with two women) was not met with acceptance.

In 1934, Schrödinger lectured at Princeton University; he was offered a permanent position there, but did not accept it. Again, his wish to set up house with his wife and his mistress may have posed a problem.

He had the prospect of a position at the University of Edinburgh but visa delays occurred, and in the end he took up a position at the University of Graz in Austria in 1936 [where, in 1939, he got caught in the German Anschluss].

In the midst of these tenure issues in 1935, after extensive correspondence with personal friend Albert Einstein, he proposed the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment [to illustrate the apparent absurdity of quantum wave-function collapse being caused by a human taking a look].

...Schrödinger asked for a colleague, Arthur March, to be offered a post as his assistant with him where he went.

The request for March stemmed from Schrödinger's unconventional relationships with women: although his relations with his wife Anny were good, he had had many lovers with his wife's full knowledge (and in fact, Anny had her own lover, [the mathematician and physicist] Hermann Weyl). Schrödinger asked for March to be his assistant because, at that time, he was in love with March's wife Hilde.

Bust at the University of Vienna, with a
compact version of Schrödinger's equation.
...In 1940 he received a personal invitation from Ireland's [prime minister, the mathematician] Éamon de Valera, to reside in Ireland and agree to help establish an Institute for Advanced Studies in Dublin. He moved to Clontarf, Dublin and became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics and remained there for 17 years, during which time he became a naturalized Irish citizen.

...Schrödinger had a long, happy, and very open marriage with Annemarie Bertel, daughter of a respected chemist. He kept a detailed log of his numerous sexual escapades, included a teen-aged girl he seduced and impregnated while acting as her math tutor. [Well, there he goes as a poster boy. –Ed.] He had children by at least three of his mistresses, including a daughter by Hilde March, the wife of his colleague Arthur March, who was himself a lover of Schrödinger's wife.

Read the whole article.




Blogger Unknown said...

It is a shame that the article called the women he was involved with his mistresses. Especially Hilde March she was clearly a partner of some type.

January 09, 2017 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is also a shame that the article uses the phrase he had a child “by Hilde”. Women are not brood mares, it is about time the word “with” replaced “by”.

February 15, 2019 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also a shame that he impregnated a teenager while acting as her math tutor. I was so excited about this article until the second to last sentence (i'm poly, work in a quantum lab, and have a tattoo of the Schrodinger equation), but that definitely ruins it.... yikes

May 20, 2021 11:00 AM  

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