Tuesday, April 22, 2014
A to Z Day Nineteen: Schrodinger's Cat
The late Erwin Schrodinger, an Austrian physicist, once proposed a puzzle (a thought experiment, neither he nor I actually killed any animals) where a cat is sealed into an airtight box with a vial of poison gas , a small amount of radioactive material which has a 50% chance of decaying per hour, and a radiation detector, which if the material decays will smash the vial and kill the cat. The puzzle is, when you shut the box, is the cat alive or dead?
The answer is unclear. One can answer that it is both, or it is neither, or it is nothing until you open the box. There are a number of different interpretations and counter interpretations that try to solve the puzzle, or ignore the puzzle, or work around the puzzle. Personally, it has always just given me a headache.
To quote John Cleese, "it's people like you what cause unrest".