Post by Kosmo
Look, I know it's just a harmless joke and I don't want to be po-faced
about it, but can I just have a brief physicist's rant about
Schrodinger's cat, please? Thank you.
Schrodinger was making a point about the weirdness of quantum behaviour,
in that an electron, a particle with mass and position in space, can
apparently pass through two separate holes at the same time, but if you
set up a device to see which hole it goes through, it changes its
behaviour and only goes through one or the other. His point was that,
by these laws, the notional cat in the box is *both* alive *and* dead at
the same time (i.e. in a state of quantum indeterminacy). Only when
someone looks into the box does the cat adopt the state of either a
living or a dead cat. The idea is intended to illustrate some deep and
counter-intuitive properties of the universe.
The Schrodinger's Cat paradox is *not* about wondering what has gone on
where we can't see or hear it. We didn't need one of the 20th Century's
greatest physicists to tell us that we may not know what's inside a box
until we've looked. Anyone can tell you that, and its scarcely a
profound philosophical observation about the structure of the universe.
Similarly, that business about a tree falling in a forest where no-one
can hear it is nothing to do with Schrodinger's Cat. It's just an
almost content-free matter of semantics: obviously the tree and its
surroundings will obey the laws of physics, so there will be
compressions and rarefactions (i.e sound waves) created in the air.
Whether or not you want to call that a "noise" if the waves do not reach
a human ear doesn't strike me as a very interesting question, and it
certainly doesn't tell us anything about the wider universe. (It is
left as an exercise for the reader to conclude whether there might
possibly be some means of determining whether a fridge light goes off
when you close the door or whether it is another deep philosophical
Sorry - I just needed to get that off my chest. Please feel free to
carry on making amusing Schrodinger references without worrying about
their philosophical accuracy.
I'll get me coat - provided it hasn't vanished because I'm not looking
at it right now.
Sid (Make sure Matron is away when you reply)