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Everything You Should Know About 'Schrödinger's Cat'

Submitted by solomon on Fri, 03/02/2018 - 12:11
image of cat
Pic: Pexels Creative Commons / Vladim B

Schrödinger's cat is an experiment, often described as a paradox, created by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. He did the experiment to show the problem with the ‘Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics’, applied to everyday objects.

What is a paradox? Who was Erwin Schrödinger?

A paradox is something that may seem absurd or contradictory but yet can be true, or at least makes sense. It leads to a self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion. Erwin Schrödinger is a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist. He was born August 12, 1887, and died January 4, 1961.

What is the 'Schrödinger’s cat' experiment?

Schrödinger’s cat is an experiment about quantum physics. I know you may ask yourself, 'What does that mean? Why is this important? Why would I care?'. I assure you this is the most interesting article you will ever read! In this thought experiment, Schrödinger places a living cat in a sealed box along with a Geiger counter and a bottle of poison. If the Geiger counter detects that the radioactive material has decayed, it will trigger the smashing of the bottle of poison and the cat will be killed. Until the box is opened, the observer doesn't know whether the cat is alive or dead, because the cat's fate is tied to whether or not the material has decayed. As Schrödinger put it, the cat is both 'living and dead’. The experiment was important because it revolutionized quantum mechanics. It is celebrated as one of the most important achievements in 20th Century physics.

How does this apply to my everyday life?

The message behind the experiment is, you will never know the outcome of the things you do. You need to take chances and metaphorically put the cat in the box. No offence to the cat! You need to make sacrifices for yourself, because you will never know the outcome. You could be very successful or you could fail. If you fail, try again. If you succeed, you have saved the cat.

Is Schrödinger’s cat dead or alive?

Schrödinger’s cat is both dead and alive at the same time. This is because the cat’s fate is unknown until the box is opened. We all know that cats have nine lives. But can a cat survive radioactive poison? Schrödinger escaped all these questions by simply saying the cat is both dead and alive.
By Isabelle