Talk:Schrödinger's cat

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Am I the only one who sees the name as Schrapdinger's cat? Albeit the "ap" are fancy, but why? And what happened to Schrodinger's cat? Didn't we have an article with the exact same words? ThunderkatzHo! 19:00, 16 September 2007 (EDT)

See Schrödinger's cat SJGsjg 19:08, 16 September 2007 (EDT)

Relic of host change SJGsjg 19:17, 16 September 2007 (EDT)


You know this animal would make a really cool RW mascot too.--Bobbing up 16:49, 27 December 2007 (EST)

It's odd, isn't it…[edit]

…that the triggering mechanism is sort of a little microcosm of the larger experiment?

Or am I jumping to conclusions? --Linus(plot evil tech) 15:29, 23 March 2008 (EDT)

Not sure exactly what you mean, but the point of the experiment is to "lever" the subatomic quantum events to a macroscopic event. While one can simply keep the whole thing at the level of one nucleus, it's not as interesting or weird as a dead/alive cat. humanUser talk:Human 16:28, 23 March 2008 (EDT)
Oh, I know. I was just referring to the almost philosophical interest of the microcosm influencing the macrocosm. I'm not being terrible coherent at conveying the idea at the moment, probably. --Linus(plot evil tech) 17:18, 23 March 2008 (EDT)

The facts[edit]

The point of the thought experiment was that you can't lever quantum effects up into the physical world; the cat isn't both dead and alive at the same time, because it notices, if no one else does. So add my little note back, or write a better one. I'm not going to get into a revert war, but I don't think the current article really discusses the implications properly. Also, it leaves this wide open for misinterpretation as sham QP. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 03:21, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

I'm hardly an expert on this, Wazza, but your argument doesn't seem to give any reason why these quantum effects couldn't "lever up" if there didn't happen to be a living creature in the box. ··  _‡ . ¥    03:57, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
Neither am I, but any device which can detect the quantum effects one way or another seems to count as an observer, as in the double-slit experiment, and so even without the cat in the box the effects wouldn't lever up once detected by whatever smashes the bottle. On the other hand, when the cat IS in the box, it can't be both alive and dead, because it's definitely an observer, and claiming otherwise is supporting woo. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 04:17, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
Schrodinger proposed this in order to poke holes in speculation about levering-up quantum theory. It isn't his fault that lesser physicists ran with it. Real macro quantum effects require the creation of optical-sized pieces of bose-einstein condensate... not moggies. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 04:19, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
Once again, I'm sorry if I am misinformed, but I was under that impression that Schrodinger's cat was regarded as a paradox, and raised an issue that has multiple interpretations. You seem to be suggesting that the solution is very simple -- almost anything can be an observer and there is never any question of superposition above atomic level. ··  _‡ . ¥    05:03, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
It was raised as a paradox under the interpretations of the younger generation of quantum theorists, by Schrodinger, to show them where they had gone wrong. The idea of a cat being both alive and dead at the same time is obviously absurd, so which is wrong, you, or the universe? "Well, I know which one's wrong, I checked my work three times." The point is that the cat isn't both alive and dead, because the quantum wave function is collapsed in the act of levering it up to macro scale. Just because something is a paradox doesn't mean there isn't an answer; consider Zeno's paradoxes, which, if they were truly unanswerable, would make movement and the existence of time an impossibility, or Olbers' Paradox, which claims that the night sky should be blazing white from the infinite stars around us, because Olbers didn't know the universe was expanding. A paradox isn't something that can't be answered, it's a way of showing people that the current picture doesn't fit the frame. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 08:00, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
But unless I'm much mistaken, this particular paradox has been answered in several ways, and our current understanding of quantum mechanics does not tell us which answer is definitive. I'm not arguing that the cat is alive and dead at the same time, I'm saying that we can't categorically state why that isn't the case. ··  _‡ . ¥    10:15, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
Yes, but leaving it as an exercise for the reader invites "Oh, a cat can be both alive and dead, therefore physics allows magic, therefore I can make passes with my hands and cure cancer, right?" And we're supposed to be promoting rationality, so... Just quote some possible reasons why the cat doesn't actually enter an indeterminate state. It doesn't have to be correct, just possible. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 10:56, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
I like to think our readers are intelligent enough not to think like that if they're here in the first place :) Maybe we should look at all the (notable) interpretations of quantum theory. It'd take a while to write all of them, but it isn't like RationalWiki is "due in on thursday" or anything. ··  _‡ . ¥    10:59, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
The readers who are intelligent enough to figure it out have probably already read about it. The point of a resource like Ratwiki is to distill information so that anyone can access it without having to figure out half the information for themselves. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 11:06, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
If everyone who is capable of understanding already knows the details then why write about it at all, Wazza? Your statement makes little sense to me. ··  _‡ . ¥    11:11, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
I'm with Numbers Dude on this one. Schrodinger's intent wasn't to show that that quantum effects can't be "scaled up". He was using a macroscopic example to demonstrate how counterintuitive the concept of superposition is. It's hard to conceive just how revolutionary an idea superposition is when talking about electrons, so he used a cat instead. The cat's state of "aliveness" is tied to the state of the atomic decay. The interpretation of that idea isn't definitively resolved. Some Copenhagen interpretation adherents would indeed probably argue that the cat is in an entangled alive/dead state. Wazza, I think you may be pretty close to correct if you consider the cat as an observer of its own alive or dead condition, but I don't know that everyone would agree that's the case. And furthermore, I don't think that issue is really central to what the point of the thought experiment is.--Bayesyikes 13:47, 20 May 2008 (EDT)
Thanks, Bayes Dude. :) ··  _‡ . ¥    13:57, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

Yeah, but currently there's no explanation of that, either. I just want an explanation there. And I didn't say anyone who could understand already knew, but that anyone who could figure it out without any prompting (I don't include myself in this, there are maybe ten people in the whole world who could) already knows it. The rest of us need it laid out, with footnotes. Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 17:56, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

How can we lay it out with footnotes when we don't have a definitive answer? ··  _‡ . ¥    11:18, 21 May 2008 (EDT)
There's some obtuse crap info relating to this topic at quantum collapse.--Bayesyikes 15:22, 21 May 2008 (EDT)

There's a good deal of debate concerning what actually constitutes an observer. --Linus(plot evil tech) 15:26, 21 May 2008 (EDT)


I must say I find the content a little woo. I haven't read over the full conversation above, but I get the feeling that this article has been questioned without any clear aim where it is going. I must say I haven't done quantum now for 4 years so I can't help, also we never discussed this specifically in lectures (the old exam papers had "why does Schrödinger's cat not meet the proportions of quantum mechanics" so my guess is this actually lays out side quantum physics this experiment). I will go over my old books and notes and see what I can find. - π 11:22, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

I dunno, it doesn't seem to me to claim the cat is actually in superposition - just our knowledge outside the box - "Until we open the box and observe the result, we have no way of knowing which state the cat is in". I think I recall reading a thing in that "In Search of" book that playfully extended the "observer chain", by putting the box on a spaceship. The cosmonauts open the box and now they know which way the wave collapsed, but on Earth no one knows yet so it's still superimposed for them. And, yeah, part of the issue of resolving the "paradox" is defining what constitutes an "observer". Another aspect is to demonstrate the whole point of how weird superimposition is - sure, we "know" a cat can't be half dead and half alive, but we also don't know which it is until we "open the box", which = "force the wave collapse" by analogy. But feel free to spiff it up/improve/correct, especially if I'm wrong ;) ħumanUser talk:Human 16:05, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Wasn't it that, because it was dependent on a quantum event i.e. has fission occured Y/N, then the cat is in superposition & won't collapse until th box is opened to the universe. ToastToastand marmite 16:11, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

The T-Shirt[edit]

They also have a Schrödinger's cat t-shirt. Which in my opinion is more for making fun of the friends who don't get it than anything else.OpalHonors 22:42, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Another possibility[edit]

The cat teleports itself (as many cats can) out of the box/totally ignores the poison. (talk) 16:08, 20 December 2010 (UTC)


that is all Scream!! (talk) 10:28, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Bobby Ewing[edit]

... is another example of a Schrodinger's cat character. (talk) 16:00, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

It is for me, I never saw that episode. Sophiebecause liberals 17:15, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

Difference between the human eye, a Geiger counter et cetera[edit]

Regarding this passage:

“Under most interpretations of quantum mechanics, there is nothing special about human eyes that make the universe want to collapse on itself and decide what a wavefunction is going to be!”

Isn’t the assumption that it’s the human mind (or more specifically, attention) which causes the wave function to collapse, not the eye? Since a Geiger counter presumably has no mind of its own it wouldn’t collapse the wave function by registering an emission. I mean that still leaves us with the cat as a possible observer so a preferable experiment (a less controversial one, too, I reckon) would consist of a vase and a dangling hammer and thus a vase that might be both broken and whole at the same time. -- (talk) 10:00, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't think the distinction between "eye" and "mind" is really made among people who take the experiment literally. The idea that consciousness is what collapses wavefunctions (if you want to take that interpretation at face value and correct) is widely believed by people who study QM seriously, either. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 17:18, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

The musical version[edit]

Is Oh Christmas Tree/Tannenbaum and The Red Flag. Anna Livia (talk) 11:15, 25 December 2017 (UTC)