Schrödinger’s Other Cat

Mia, as he was lovingly inclined to call her, was Schrödinger’s other cat.

Suppose, she postulated, just suppose that Erwin, her master, along with a vial of hydrocyanic acid, were placed in a sealed chamber. If also in the chamber, was a very small amount of a radioactive substance. She thought to herself that even if a single atom of the substance were to decay whilst he was in the chamber, a relay mechanism linked to a Geiger counter could trip a hammer, breaking that deadly vial and kill her owner.

This troubled Mia. After all, she thought, whilst her owner was in the chamber she could not tell whether or not an atom of the substance has decayed, and consequently, cannot know whether the vial has been broken, the hydrocyanic acid released, and her owner killed.

She would not be able to tell if her owner was now alive or dead.

This was to her a paradox for in her mind Schrödinger be both dead and alive according to her master’s quantum physics laws he was always on about. An outcome as such does not exist unless it is observed.

All the thinking tired Mia, and she dropped off to sleep in her box.

Was that the sound of a vial cracking open?

Copyright © Stuart Danton 2010


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