This article contains discussion of sexual abuse, including of children.
The Schrödinger Lecture Theatre is to be renamed the Physics Lecture Theatre, as it was known during the early to mid 20th century.
Students and staff in the School of Physics called for the name to be changed due to Erwin Schrödinger’s history of sexually abusing young girls.
Schrödinger’s abuse of women and children was disclosed by the Irish Times on 11 December 2021. The article detailed the physicist’s journal entries which catelogued his sexual predation.
Schrrödinger reportedly groomed and abused girls as young as 12 years old while he was their tutor. According to The Irish Times, Schrödinger was “a serial abuser whose behaviour fitted the profile of a paedophile in the widely understood sense of that term”.
Following the article, a petition calling for the lecture theatre to be renamed garnered over 215 signatures.
Speaking to The Times, Head of the School of Physics Prof Jonathan Coleman said: “There was a diversity of opinion on how the school and college should react, but it was clear that a large majority of both staff and students now favour changing the name [of] the lecture theatre in the Fitzgerald Building that has borne his name since the 1990s”.
In a press release today, a spokesperson for College said: “This is a complex situation and the School of Physics has approached it in a careful and considered manner.”
“The current approach continues to honour the indisputable scientific contribution of Erwin Schrödinger, while acknowledging disturbing information – much of it from Schrödinger’s own diaries – which is now also known.”
The Austrian physicist, who became an Irish citizen in 1948, delivered three public lectures entitled ‘What is Life?’ at Trinity in 1943. Following the revelations of Schrödinger’s sexual abuse, College is to discuss “in the coming months” how to mark the series, which was previously honoured as the Schrödinger Lecture Series, appopriately.
The Schrödinger Lecture Series will also be discussed at Trinity’s STEM Faculty Executive. It has been proposed that its name be changed to the “What is life?” lecture series.
Additionally, a portrait of Schrödinger will be removed from the Fitzgerald building.