Friday, February 02, 2024

Letting the cat out of the bag


I've always been fascinated by the theory of Schrodinger's Cat. I swear I must of have written about it at some time, but I searched and can't find a specific post. If you aren't familiar with the theory, ChatGPT says:

Schrödinger's Cat is a thought experiment proposed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935 to illustrate the peculiar principles of quantum mechanics, specifically the superposition and uncertainty principles.

In this hypothetical scenario, a cat is placed in a sealed box along with a radioactive atom, a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, and a mechanism triggered by the decay of the radioactive atom. If the Geiger counter detects radiation, the mechanism is activated, releasing the poison and causing the cat's demise.

According to quantum mechanics, before the box is opened and an observation is made, the radioactive atom exists in a superposition of decayed and undecayed states simultaneously. Consequently, the cat is considered to be both alive and dead, as its fate is entangled with the uncertain state of the atom.

The underlying concept is that the act of observation collapses the quantum superposition, forcing the system into one of the possible states. Schrödinger used this scenario to highlight the apparent paradoxes and challenges posed by the application of quantum mechanics to macroscopic objects.

It is important to note that Schrödinger's Cat is a theoretical construct designed to emphasize the peculiarities of quantum superposition and does not suggest that a cat can exist in a simultaneous state of life and death in reality. The thought experiment is frequently used in discussions about the interpretation of quantum 

Jargon aside, and despite ChatGPT's disclaimer at the end (which I think was to prevent people from putting cats in boxes...though it is something I understand) it comes down to the concept that something doesn't become a reality until you, the observer, observe it. That's what fascinates me about it. It kind of overlaps into the multiple worlds theory which, in my simplistic mind, posits that everything that can happen does happen in multiple worlds or universes in theory layered upon each other but not overlapping. So the cat can be alive and dead depending upon what universe you are in.

Or the cat is in a bag as pictured in the vintage postcard above. But I don't think they were thinking Quantum Physics when they created it.

So bag it. 

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