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QM Cat!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there..


As I understand it, Schroedinger's cat is a thought experiment illustrating the concept of superposition - in which a system can be in several states simultaneously (e.g. both spin up and spin down at the same time).


In the thought experiment, a cat is placed in a box with an explosive (or canister of cyanide, or some other deadly agent), to be triggered by the random decay of a radioactive nucleus. As we cannot see the cat, we cannot know whether it is dead or alive; quantum mechanics says it is in a superposition of both life and death. Upon observation, it is forced to take one state or the other, and this is what we observe.


I believe it was originally proposed to highlight the apparently absurdity of quantum mechanics when applied to the macroscopic world - a cat clearly cannot be both alive and dead at the same time. It is often reinterpreted or misunderstood (as, for that matter, is the uncertainty principle) to reflect the observer effect, wherein the act of observation changes the experiment. In this variation, opening the box triggers the poison, killing the cat.


Hope this helps. I'm not entirely sure how accurate my explanation of it is, though.



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