Schrodinger's Cat

  • creamcheese

    creamcheese (100)

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    Am I right in thinking that:
    Schrodinger proposed that if you put a cat in a box with poison that could be released at any point in time, until you look in the box the cat is both alive and dead? If not can someone explain it to me?
    January 6th, 2012 at 08:14pm
  • shirtless

    shirtless (105)

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    It's something like that, yeah. It didn't make a lot of sense to me when I learned it in chemistry class because my mind just can't seem to process something being both alive and dead at the same time, but my teacher said its related to the possibility of life until something is known for sure. I have no idea how to explain it. Here's what the wiki said:

    Schrödinger's Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source, is placed in a sealed box. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.

    This whole experiment confuses me so much.
    January 8th, 2012 at 02:59am
  • Takanori Matsumoto.

    Takanori Matsumoto. (150)

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    From a philosophocal standpoint, the Schrodinger's Cat experiment also suggests that the cat, while enclosed in the box and away from anyone that can interact with it, does not exist at all. That particular paradox is based upon the idealist (not quite sollipsist, but close) view that something only exists if there is something to observe it. Schrodinger's Cat was a perfect example of this because the cat would be away from any observer, and thus would technically not exist at all, so could not technically be killed by the poison in the bottle.
    January 8th, 2012 at 03:27am
  • Kurtni

    Kurtni (10125)

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    Takanori Matsumoto.:
    That particular paradox is based upon the idealist (not quite sollipsist, but close) view that something only exists if there is something to observe it.
    Schrodinger's cat is a hypothetical manifestation of quantum mechanics (specifically quantum entanglement) and a problem it presents; it's not a philosophical concept, at least not at it's basis. The whole thing was more of a tongue in cheek dialogue between Schrodinger and Einstein, as a reduction to the absurd, not as something that can actually happen. The theory itself applies to subatomic particles, not things at the organismal level.
    January 8th, 2012 at 07:14pm
  • Takanori Matsumoto.

    Takanori Matsumoto. (150)

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    ^ We discussed it in my philosophy class last semester, though. I know it was more or less a hypothetical, but that philosophical "does this exist/can it really be poisioned if there is no one to observe it" bit was definitely a side of it, and then the science bit was the other half.
    January 9th, 2012 at 12:13am
  • Mini Mindfreak Casey

    Mini Mindfreak Casey (100)

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    All I know is the other day I saw a picture of a cat coming out of a box and it said Schrodingers Cat is still alive and ANGRY. It made me laugh. xDDD
    July 5th, 2012 at 01:45am
  • folie a dru.

    folie a dru. (1270)

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    I think Schrodinger played with LSD too much or something because I don't agree at all. Now I'm annoyed. Grr

    It is dead or alive and it doesn't matter if you can see it; it still exists.
    July 6th, 2012 at 10:43pm
  • SleeplessLetter's

    SleeplessLetter's (100)

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    This year in Chemistry, me and a few friends went on Amazon and found shirts that said on the back "Schrodingers cat is dead." Then on the front, it had a closed box and it said. "JK its still in the box."

    I just thought that was funny... ^_^ so I thought I would share. Mr. Green
    July 7th, 2012 at 08:05am
  • The Master

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    @ open dru's mouth.
    Schrodinger's cat was actually used as a slur against the idea of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger was being sarcastic but it has back-fired. It's similar to the term "Big Bang Theory".

    Additionally, it doesn't represent non-existence. It represents the concept of the unknown and unpredictable. Whilst the cat is in the box, we cannot possibly know if it's dead or alive but simply make predictions based on the laws of probability. Only when the box is opened then we know what universe we're living in. It shows the weakness of traditionalist, Newtonian theories of causality: both situations have identical causes but the effects are different (which follows aspects of Einsteinian and Chaos Theories of causality) but emphasises the unpredictability, the randomness and ultimately leads to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. If we cannot determine cause and effect from theoretical and sub-atomic structures then it has major implications across the board - from the existence of God to the existence of multiverses.

    Essentially, it's not so much that the cat doesn't exist, it's that it's both alive and dead at the same time until you open the box.
    July 7th, 2012 at 05:33pm
  • Kurtni

    Kurtni (10125)

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    ^Yeah exactly, it's not about a literal cat in the box and Schoridinger wasn't postulating that putting a cat in a box and doing an experiment like this was of any scientific value, or that something like a cat has the same physical properties as quantum particles. It was a metaphor to illustrate quantum absurdity, at least what Schrodinger saw as absurd.

    I kind of hate that philosophers got ahold of Schrodinger's cat, because the science behind it seemingly got lost.
    July 7th, 2012 at 07:32pm
  • The Master

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    @ Kurtni

    It all gets combined though with the question of causality...which is my favourite subject and I ended up getting an awesome mark in my Psych and Tech exam because I keep rambling on and on about it. XD

    Physics, psychology, philosophy...cause and effect is...well, complicated.

    Well, I'm fine with philosophers using it with the correct use but this whole solipsism thing is not quite the idea intended.
    July 7th, 2012 at 07:45pm
  • The Rumor

    The Rumor (365)

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    From a scientific (quantum physicist's) point of view, though, it can also be used when questioning whether or not the cat is in the box. Based on Feynman's equation, atoms are always moving, travelling along paths throughout the universe. Atoms make up everything and because of this, unless you can see something you can't know for sure if something is actually there. Theoretically, the cat's atoms could be jumping around the universe and not actually inside the box at all. Obviously the probability that the cat is in the box is massively high but this probability is indeed calculable (if you're really, really good at math). If you figure out the calculation then you can find out the number of seconds you need to wait until the cat's atoms are likely to have jumped out the box (AKA an unimagineably long time). The mathematics behind it show that it's not just something that someone imagined up. It's a calculable theory.

    (Credit to Prof. Brian Cox for teaching me this.)
    July 7th, 2012 at 09:54pm
  • The Master

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    @ The Rumor
    If all atoms are moving then how can we be certain that we are not in the box and the cat is outside the box? It seems a bit of a logical push to say that the cat may not be in the box due to atom movement (if the box is indeed merely a box and not proto-teleportation equipment which I know has something to do with quantum entanglement but my memory is vague) considering that it must mean that all atoms move. Consequentially, you could as easily suggest that the box itself has moved yet the cat has not. Of course, I may be getting the theory terribly wrong but in order for cat-in-the-box thing to be even remotely possible, the atoms that make up the box itself must either not move, move more slowly than the kitti-atoms or are moving in the direct opposite direction.

    It could be a calculable theory but it pre-supposes rather a lot which I'm struggling to undertake unless I had further information to confirm that I don't quite understand the theory itself and this making my criticisms already answered or profoundly stupid. You would agree - however - that it is not directly related to subsets of solipsism (however fun the philosophical intent) and that as a rule, Schrodinger's cat was more to do with uncertainty than atomic drift (which it is now called in my head. Surfing atoms. On a beach of...quarks. Radical, dude.)
    July 7th, 2012 at 10:31pm
  • The Rumor

    The Rumor (365)

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    ^ It is a wildly simplified metaphor to explain a larger theory. Prof. Brian Cox explain it in a program on quantum physics which can be viewed here.

    I'm not saying that the cat isn't going to be in the box when you open it but rather pointing out that quantum physics also employs it as a metaphor within other theories than the dead or alive cat.
    July 7th, 2012 at 10:56pm
  • The Master

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    ^ Hmm, I shall need to look it up. I might watch the documentary but I do have a certain...aversion to Foxy Coxy (which is to complicated and too silly to go into) so I should be able to find a textbook or something.

    Like I said, it's original intent and most used purpose is more along the lines of The Uncertainity Principle than otherwise.

    Although this has started me thinking about rabbits in top hats and how they can disappear...XD
    July 7th, 2012 at 11:06pm
  • The Rumor

    The Rumor (365)

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    @ The Master.
    I know, I just thought it was worth mentioning because of what people were saying about philosophy and Schrodinger's Cat.

    Haha, there's a whole quantum magic act metaphor that we could create!
    July 7th, 2012 at 11:19pm
  • The Master

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    @ The Rumor
    Fair enough.

    #it could be fun and educational!
    July 8th, 2012 at 01:18am
  • Crash Rakashe

    Crash Rakashe (150)

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    creamcheese:
    Am I right in thinking that:
    Schrodinger proposed that if you put a cat in a box with poison that could be released at any point in time, until you look in the box the cat is both alive and dead? If not can someone explain it to me?
    Well you don't need the poison. In fact the poison in this argument is kinda pointless. The point being that you have a cat in a box and that you don't know the state of said cat.
    shirtless:
    It's something like that, yeah. It didn't make a lot of sense to me when I learned it in chemistry class .
    May I ask as to why you were being taught a quantum physics theory in chemistry. One deals with maths and the laws of the universe where the other deals with the reactions of chemicals and their effects on the on the environment, and when combined with biology the effects a chemical has to a living body or diseases/illness. Don't really see the linkage there.
    shirtless:
    This whole experiment confuses me so much.
    If I'm right, the whole point of the experiment is to show that if you don't know the state of one thing, then it is all. It's a form of Probability Theory, but don't hold me on this.

    What I love about Schrödinger's Cat is the vary basic idea can be used on lots a thing. Like the gender of car drivers. Lets say you Change the Box into a Car, the Cat with the Driver and the Dead or Alive scenario with a Male or Female scenario. Now using this you can claim that the Driver are hermaphrodite (OK maybe not that far, but here me out) The same with the cat, you can not tell the gender of the Driver, only speculate, till you see said Driver. So until you reach the point of knowing the gender the Driver is, at least in your mind, both genders; like the cat being dead or alive in the box. Smartass But that's my understanding of this. You can apply this to a lot of things how ever that doesn't mean you should. Any way I'm most likely wrong so, not as if I need to tell you this, feel free to correct me.

    And encase of flaming, I only fought of this is as I tried to guess the gender of the other drivers on the rode when I stared out of the bus window going into the city centre.
    July 14th, 2012 at 03:11am
  • shirtless

    shirtless (105)

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    ^ It was a random thing our teacher brought up one day then never again after that. I only started listening because I heard the word cat. We really didn't 'learn' it, just kind of talked broadly about it.

    Honestly, this whole thing still doesn't make sense to me. I can't grasp the concept because the words don't work well with me in English. I have to learn it in my first language.
    July 14th, 2012 at 04:03am
  • lumy.

    lumy. (100)

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    @ shirtless

    My friend learned that in Chemistry as well. I didn't because I haven't taken Chemistry yet(I barely struggled through Biology).

    --

    My friend told me about the experiment, and a number of other scientifical things, and it really interested me.
    July 19th, 2012 at 12:20am