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Otis42
topic
04:18:46 PM May 12th 2013
what i dont get is if i actually did this and instead of a radioactive element and a geiger counter as the trigger, it was a camera looking at a coin flipping mechanism that if it is heads, the cat dies and if it is tails, the cat lives. i wouldnt be sitting outside thinking the cat is dead and alive. its either heads and the cat is dead or tails and the cat is alive.
sensorsweep
03:35:27 PM Aug 6th 2014
i believe that your confusion lies with why they used the radiation/geiger counter and because it's a physics thought experiment it seems that they are crucial to it. Schrödinger came up with this thought experiment to show how the theories him and his colleagues were working on for describing particles made absolutely no sense when applied to objects we interact with. that part is almost never mentioned when Schrödinger's cat is talked about.

remember, this was happening in the 1920s and 30s, before computers, so a mechanism like you're describing with a coin and and a camera wouldn't have been conceivable really. he could have used a mechanical device that after an hour, one of two possible things happens with one outcome killing the cat, and the other doing nothing to the cat. what Schrödinger needed was a completely self contained system with no outside interference with the ability to, after a certain amount of time, perform one of two possible tasks with a 50% chance for both outcomes in an age before computers. but i think because Schrödinger and those he described his thought experiment to were constantly immersed in studying physics, that the way it's described (with the radioactive material having a 50/50 chance of an atom decaying in an hour, and the geiger counter is wired to whatever releases the poison for the cat) it's essentially flipping a coin, but for them it's like 'shop talk'. using what is familiar to them to describe something new and bizarre. it's kind of like when my family was going through it's first few P Cs and my dad was trying to understand all the specs and didn't understand the difference between RAM and the hard drive memory, so i said something about short and long term memory.

i hope i made sense and actually know what i'm talking about.
Werebereus
topic
01:07:23 PM Mar 19th 2012
Sorry, but unless the box was soundproof and the cat in question was asleep, unconscious, or muzzled i refuse to believe a cat sat in a box quietly and obediantly for an hour without light, food or water. Here's how you can tell if it's alive or dead:

If it's struggling to get out or not. After an hour, yeah its dead.
sensorsweep
04:39:02 PM Aug 6th 2014
Wereberues, i know you're probably just trolling, but one of my pet peeves is when this thought experiment is used in tv/film in an annoying TBBT way just to appear smart, and it's inevitably misused or misapplied. so for the sake of clarification

1. it was just a thought experiment. there was never actually a cat being put in a box. 2. Schrödinger came up with this ridiculous idea because he realized that how these theories described physics at the atomic level, made absolutely no sense when describing classical physics (a block sliding down an incline plane, 2 sphere's colliding, a train leaves boston travelling at..). 3. in order for his 'experiment' to be able to describe the Copenhagen interpretation and how bizarre it sounds when applied to everyday objects, from the moment the box is closed with the cat inside, there is NO way to tell what is happening inside the box until it is opened an hour later. when you open the box, you are effectively taking a measurement of the cats state of being alive or dead. particles can exist in a quantum superposition that wikipedia states thusly
a physical system—such as an electron—exists partly in all its particular theoretically possible states (or, configuration of its properties) simultaneously
. but, if you want to take a measurement of the particle or whatever you're experimenting on, in order to measure it, you have to hit it with something and observe the results. your measurement forces the particle/thing into a particular state where before it was a big question mark. if you're in a lab and you're cat is asleep in the corner, and you use a laser to measure how far away it is from you, you can probably trust that measurement because the laser doesn't have enough energy to really affect the position of your cat. now! if you were curious about the electrons on a carbon atom at the tip of one of your kitty's whiskers, the photons emitted by the laser are now interacting with things closer to its own scale, and the energy of a photon hitting an electron does affect the state of the electron.. or something. until you open the box and look at the cat, you don't know if it is alive or dead, so until you measure it (poke it) the cat (while pretending our big world is quantum mechanical) is both dead and alive.

AnonymousMcCartneyfan
topic
09:00:01 PM Jun 7th 2011
edited by AnonymousMcCartneyfan
Note: if I recall correctly, one point of the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment was that something on a quantum-physics level could, at least in theory, affect something on what would normally be a conventional physics level.

Okay, so we have a cat in a box. The box has a chemical weapon in it. If it goes off, the cat is dead; if not, the cat is alive. And the trigger for this weapon is whether an atom of uranium decays within the next hour... Let's assume you have no outside display for the Geiger counter that's the trigger. Then there is no way to know if the atom has decayed until you open the box.

There were, apparently, theories saying that it had neither decayed nor avoided decay — neither could happen until there was a measurement of some sort... But since the cat lives if the atom is intact and dies if it isn't, if the atom is in neither state, then neither is the cat. QED.

Valido
03:00:19 PM Jan 17th 2012
There are several flaws in the article, but none of them are worth going into with any depth as no one that isn't studying quantum mechanics would care or notice the difference. The reason we cannot know the momentum and position of a particle at the same time is not due to the detection method interacting with the particle. The uncertainty comes about due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which through a quirk of math says, the sum of the uncertainty of the momentum and the uncertainty of the position are equal to h/4pi, so you can either know one or the other or a bit of each, but the interference explanation is suitable for most, just supplying the info incase we want to be more stringently accurate.
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