Concluding Schrodinger’s cat

Hello to the skeptical gang, and that one creationist (you know who you are.),

Yesterday I made a post about how there may be infinite universes out there where every single possibility is fulfilled in that universe, and I also said that it not only talks about sub-atomic things like nuclear radiation of particles or whether or not the cat dies, but it most likely also relates to everyday things, like tossing coins.

Now, when I first heard about this theory and when I have since described it to other people, we have all had the same initial reaction. It’s just like those times in a TV series or book series where the writer has clearly run out of ideas for the season so decides to do the cliché parallel universe episode, where the personalities are turned around and it provides everybody with some ironic humor.  This is probably not the case for most universes. Out there somewhere in the multiverse, there will be a universe where that happens, but it won’t be the norm. And no, the way to access these parallel universes is not through a mirror.

I must explain, when things like this happen, obviously our universe is the universe which follows one line through the probability tree, there is no way in which we can change it, and there is no way in which we can leap from branch to branch through universes.

I also referenced a crazy experiment where a scientist conducts the Schrödinger’s cat experiment on themselves. This is just suicidal, because in almost every single instance, the scientist will be killed, but in one of the multiverses, he will survive. In this lucky universe, the scientist will survive and live to fight another day and to research more stuff in particle physics. In the other universes however, there will be much mourning for the gallant scientist who chanced his life for science, and will be forever more wondering, “Was there another universe out there with ‘the scientist that lived'”. The only proof for the multiverse so far, other than disturbances in the CMBR, is that experiment. Proof would be a living scientist, and a dead scientist proves nothing.

CMBR image

Circular disturbances to the CMBR are the only other way which we would be able to test the multiverse.

That’s about it for Schrödinger’s cat and the implications this thought experiment has had on current quantum theory. Originally designed to show how ridiculous it all is, it is now one of the most common descriptions of quantum mechanics around today. It is also the only reason why we remember Erwin Schrödinger, and is his lasting legacy.
To be honest, if there is one thing I would like to achieve in my life, is to have something such as a thought experiment like this named after me, it’s the only way for an Atheist to stick around after his death.

I will leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein, “God does not play dice.” Albert Einstein, possibly the greatest mind to reject the theory of quantum mechanics.


More on quantum mechanics

Greetings and salutations to all intelligent people in the meta-nation which is the internet.

Yesterday I made a blog about Schrödinger’s cat and the implications it has for quantum mechanics. Today I would like to talk about a more extreme Schrödinger’s cat experiment where the lowly cat is replaced for an actual scientist. This seems like a very crazy experiment to conduct and it is, because the scientist will most likely die, but maybe, just maybe, he will survive and live to test more stuff another day.

To find out why this experiment would ever be done, I will explain to you one explanation of the “one photon acts like a lot of photons” experiment that I talked about last time. The leading interpretation at the moment is that when something happens, say, a photon goes through a slit, or a radioactive atom decays, or you decide not to use conditioner in the shower, all of the possible outcomes are achieved with their respective wave functions, and these happen in different universes. What is interesting is that when something like Schrödinger’s cat happens, there is one universe in the multiverse where the cat dies almost instantaneously, and another universe where the cat does not die at all, and this happens with everything that happens in the universe, and other universes, and more universes. What this conjures up in my mind almost instantly in a tree, and I think it helps describe this well.

Probability diagram

A probability tree which shows well how this interpretation of quantum theory works

Imagine the world as it is now, there are two possibilities right now, you can continue to read this blog, or you can log off (which would be very rude) There will be one universe where you log off, this is universe A, and one where you continue reading, universe B. Now there are two ‘parallel’ universes. There will now be two choices in universe A, you decide to log back on, because you realize how rude what you did was, and one where you stay logged off. in universe B, you have two choices, you stay logged on because this is completely riveting stuff, and one where you do finally log off.

The universe that we do end up being in will be one of those possibilities, hopefully the one where you stay online. But that does not mean that the other universes do not exist, they still exist, but you and I cannot ever get back to that other universe. This explains the ‘one photon acting like lots’ experiments. It also means that occasionally, unlikely things will happen, like the cat not passing away. It also means that out there, in the multiverse, there is a universe where I am having a conversation with Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from Michio Kaku, ” In fact, it is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. Some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it is unquestionably correct.” Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, co-founder of string theory, a futurist and a popularizer of science.

The wonderful world of quantum mechanics

Greetings to all thinking people out there,

Today I am going to be blogging about the thought experiment first pondered by Erwin Schrödinger, and was later to become known as Schrödinger’s cat, and the implications it has on quantum theory. Keep it in mind that when Schrödinger first proposed this experiment, it was actually meant to be an argument against quantum mechanics, rather than the explanation of quantum mechanics in large-scale objects.

Right, Schrödinger’s cat. Take a cat, put it in a box which has enough food, water, and air for it to survive indefinitely under normal circumstances. Along with the cat, in the box, you place a small amount of radioactive material which on average will decay once every hour. (This does not mean that one atom will decay every hour, it means that on average, one atom will decay every hour. If you run the experiment multiple times, sometimes it will decay almost straight away, sometimes it will never decay.) Once you have done that, you install a Geiger counter which, upon detection of the decay of an atom, will smash the flask containing the poison, thus killing the cat. You then proceed to seal up the box so that no observations of the interior of the box will occur.

Schrodinger's Cat

It's OK kitty, I would never think of harming you for science.

Now everything is set up, I’ll let you take a guess as to what will happen. Because of the uncertainty principle, where until observation, there is a superposition of all possible states, the wave functions of all of the possible outcomes will be bouncing around inside the box, but untill they are observed, they all exist at once. There will be the wave function of a living cat, the wave function of a dead cat and the wave function of the cat that is not yet dead but has already taken the poison, so amazingly, the cat is both alive and dead!

Of course, you can never actually see this superposition of states, because as soon as there is an observation of this superposition, the wave functions collapse into one, and this will be either an alive cat or a dead cat.

At this point you may be asking, “You believe in this but you don’t believe in psychics?”, I know one of you will because my mother asked this same question while reading over my shoulder. Well, mum, there is some proof for all of this.

Imagine a soccer player shooting lots of balls at a goal, with a brick wall with a gap in the middle of it (about the width of a soccer ball) in front of him. If you were to predict the result of this experiment, you would say that all of the balls that got through to the goal to be in a small cluster right in the middle. Well, this experiment has been conducted with a beam of photons, and it is not as you would expect from particles, but more what you would expect from waves, some splay right of right and some way out left, all because the particles are interfering with each others waves, essential to Schrödinger’s cat, and you can make some probabilities as to what the possibilities are of a photon hitting a particular part of the ‘goal’, say, 1 in 1000 will hit wide right. What is amazing is that this holds up even when you just shoot one photon, meaning that this particle is interfering with itself because it takes every possible outcome, and then collapses into one when it is observed.

That’s all for me for now, this is a very interesting topic and I will definitely be blogging about it again. I will leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein, “I cannot accept quantum mechanics because I like to think the moon is there even when I am not looking at it.” Albert Einstein, possibly the most famous Jewish, German-born American Citizen ever.