But Then, Who Meowed?

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Dec 10, 2011 08:47
Originally in Russian (http://www.boku.ru/2010/04/20/о-котах-шрёдингера/)

"By the way, Shroedinger, what did you do to your cat?" asked Plank, "I don't remember seeing it lately".
"Right! The cat!"
Shroedinger rushed to the cabinet, opened the curtain and took out a large black box.
"Forgot to show you! Behold, a macroscopical object in an indefinite state".
Waving the box gently, he sailed through the room and put the container on the desk. A nasty smell spread around. Einstein covered his nose.
"Yuck, just what's inside...", cringed Plank, "Smells like a carrion".
"It's my cat", declared Shroedinger proudly.
"Have you killed it?!"
"That's unknown!"
Einstein and Plank exchanged looks. Shroedinger continued without paying attention:
"Inside I put my cat and placed a flask of poisonous gas controlled by a quantum indefinite event. The odds are 50/50, either the flask got broken and the cat is dead or it's still pretty much alive".
Physicist affectinately shook the box. Bad smell spread through the room further and further.
"Oh you my quantum indefinite cat", complimented Shroedinger happily.
"You animal killer", said Einstein.
"Just why is that?"
"The cat is dead. Look at this smell!"
Shroedinger smiled cunningly.
"You think it's dead?" he asked, "Kitty-kitty, come on..."
"Mew!", answered the box. Plank and Einstein shuddered. Einstein made the sign of a cross.
"No way!" he exclaimed, "The cat is alive. What is it then that smells so bad?"
But Plank bent over the box and sniffed:
"There's something dead inside, that's for sure".
"But something meows!"
Shroedinger smiled with content, sitting in his chair at ease.

"This will not do", said Einstein suddenly, "I'm scared by this indefiniteness! Let's open the box and check".
"Wait!" Shroedinger jumped on his feet, "Don't, or you'll break everything. Once you open the box our quantum system will become entangled with that of the cat, and the cat will collapse into one of two definite states!"
"Can you repeat that in German?", inquired Einstein sarcastically, "So that even fools like us can follow".
"The point is, it'll become either truly alive or dead. What if the cat dies?! I won't be able to cope with that loss..."
"Then you shouldn't have used the cat in your experiments in the first place", said Plank grimly. He took a peek inside the box and his face lit with surprise.
"What is it?", asked Einstein excitedly. Plank turned to two other physicists.

"The cat is alive", he answered.
"The cat is dead", he answered.
"No way!", exclaimed Shroedinger. Einstein scratched his nose in confusion.
"But then, what was that smell?" he asked.
"But then, who made that meow?" he asked
"Apparently his twin from a parallel world", shrugged Plank, "At least we have no doubts regarding the fate of the cat now. For us it's in a determinate state".
"For us?", Einstein stared at the black box with curiousity, "That's interesting... What if someone else is watching us too? What if our quantum system is not the maximal one? What if for someone somewhere we still exist, like that cat, in two states?"
"Drop it", hand-waved it Plank, "This hypothesis makes no difference to us".
"Well if you say so...", shrugged Einstein.
And they proceeded to pet the Shroedinger's cat that was so miraculously saved.
And they proceeded to console their friend Shroedinger who just lost his beloved cat.