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Schrodinger's Cat

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
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on Sunday, 09 January 2011
in Great Explanations

Teachable Moment: Frankly, quantum entanglement is a pretty complex idea... but if anything's going to start cracking your brain open to it, this is a pretty good start.

In 1935, Schrodinger wrote a paper about the state of Quantum Physics wherein he posited the following:

"One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts"

And thus was born, "Shrodinger's cat"

References: http://www.tu-harburg.de/rzt/rzt/it/QM/cat.html#sect5

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Tags: Physics
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