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Mr_Paradox's avatar

Schrodinger's Cat: Alive, Dead or Both?

Asked by Mr_Paradox (3036points) July 1st, 2012

For those who don’t know Schrodiger’s Cat is a paradox thought up by Erwin Schrodinger. In it a cat is placed in a room with bomb set to have a 50/50 chance of explaing in 1 hour. You walk away and come back an hour later. You do not open the door. Now you need to decide wether is the cat alive, dead, or somehow both.

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30 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

Since there are no right or wrong answers, I will say it’s whatever is most convenient…

jerv's avatar

My vote is Zombie.

fundevogel's avatar

I could be wrong but I think in the paradox the cat is both alive and dead until you open the box where upon it is one or the other. I think it was meant to illustrate the crazy weird behavior of quantum particles that I am completely and totally unqualified to describe.

Sunny2's avatar

How about, badly damaged, but still alive. I assume you meant exploding, not
“explaing” (?)

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Quantum mechanics is a prescription for calculating the probabilities for various outcomes of an experiment. It tells you that after one hour is there is a 50% chance that the cat will be alive when the box is opened and a 50% chance that it will be dead when the box is opened. But you need to make the measurement in order for there to be an outcome. As Bohr was fond of mentioning in relation to this thought experiment, one cannot open the box and observe the superposition of states of the both dead and alive cat, so he didn’t see any problem with it.

roundsquare's avatar

I think the answer is that the question is inherently flawed. You are trying to use regular English words to describe something that English doesn’t have a way to describe because its not part of our experiences.

flutherother's avatar

If on your return the house still has a door the cat is likely still alive inside. If the house has been reduced to rubble it is probably dead. But you cannot be sure. You can never quite tell with cats.

josie's avatar

Shrodinger’s cat seems to live on and on and on.

mattbrowne's avatar

According to animal activists I met: tortured.

ucme's avatar

Scrotumdangler’s pussy!?! Sounds like a porn star’s wet dream, I choose alive.

Zyx's avatar

Actually you’re not describing the experiment properly, you need a catkilling mechanism because Schrodinger was a psychopath and you need a cesium atom to understand at what level the cats fate remains undecided. It’s not so much that the cat is both alive and dead (which is just confusing) as it is that the atom both has and hasn’t killed the cat. When we check only one of those can remain true for us but it’s conceivable that the alternatives still exist in an alternate timeline. Still I’m not entirely sure what quantum mechanics has to say about many worlds.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Dead. The “experiment” (it never occurred, it was a thought experiment) was something the man thought up when his colleagues said that what they observed was both a particle and a wave depending on whether it was observed. Schrodinger thought that was bullshit, so he asked whether his cat would be alive or dead if he put her/him in a box with poisonous gas that would only be released if the particle didn’t break down into a wave. Basically, it was an extreme way to point out how stupid it was to think that human observation has such an effect on quantum physics.

Bill1939's avatar

It may be useful to know why Schrodinger offered his famous thought experiment in 1935. At issue was the concept of Quantum superposition, which states that a particle “exists partly in all its particular, theoretically possible states simultaneously; but, when measured, it gives a result corresponding to only one of the possible configurations.”

Evidence exists that supports this. “An example of a directly observable effect of superposition is interference peaks from an electron wave [or photon] in a double-slit experiment.” Is a photon a particle, field, or both? The answer quantum physicists give is both, and experimental physicists have found evidence for this even at the molecular level.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger's_cat#The_thought_experiment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_superposition

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Please do not give long explanations of this theory. this is not where you should write your Ph.D. dissertion. Thanks :)

Bill1939's avatar

Really, @Mr_Paradox, two paragraphs (108 words) is a long explanation? To see long explanations, check out the websites I provided. :(

Mr_Paradox's avatar

I want discussion not dissertion. I hope you understand. Please

Bill1939's avatar

I don’t understand. Did you want a one word answer? If so, my answer is both. Satisfied?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Baaaah…... Humbug

Pol_is_aware's avatar

The cat is half full

Blondesjon's avatar

<— insert one word quip here

Pol_is_aware's avatar

Due to the amount of unforeseen factors, I would have to assume that the cat remained in its last known state, until I was shown evidence otherwise

ETpro's avatar

For superposition to remain uncollapsed, the actual state of the quantum particle in discussion must remain unknown. Refined experiments pushing past the original double-slit experiment have established that it is not the act of observing that collapses a waveform, it is the act of knowing what that observation was.

The Schrodinger Paradox actually involved a cat in a box, and with it a sample of a radioactive isotope that might, or might not decay while the cat was confined in the box. If it did decay, the released radiation would trigger a vial of poison to spill, filling the box with a deadly gas. Since the cat knows whether it is alive or not, it’s only a mystery to us outside the box. We can’t know till we open the box, but the superposition of the radioactive isotope is gone the moment the isotope decays and the cat observes that this has happened.

Here is what we know know about the difference between a mechanical recorder logging an observation and looking at the observation. Watch then in order unless you are already fully familiar with the double-slit experiment, in which case you can skip the first video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc&feature=player_embedded#!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0v-cvvyc-M&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfeoE1arF0I&feature=related

Bill1939's avatar

Thanks @ETpro, this is truly mind blowing. It seems to suggest that ‘consciousness’ is tangible, otherwise ‘knowing’ could not have the effect the experements reveals. Wow!

ETpro's avatar

@Bill1939 That thought occurred to me as well.

Moderators, please, please don’t mod away @LittleLemon‘s answer.

Bill1939's avatar

Sorry I missed @LittleLemon‘s answer. It would seem that @LittleLemon no longer exists on Fluther. It must have been very bad.

ETpro's avatar

@Bill1939 Perhaps @LittleLemon is in superposition on and off of Fluther. Let’s not look and risk collapsing her waveform.

flutherother's avatar

What about Schrödinger’s poor dog. It vanished completely as if it had never existed.

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