Coming Sooner

“One can even construct quite burlesque cases. A cat is shut up in a steel chamber, together with the following diabolical apparatus (which one must keep out of the direct clutches of the cat): in a Geiger tube there is a tiny mass of radioactive substance, so little that in the course of an hour perhaps one atom of it disintegrates, but also with equal probability not even one; if it does happen, the counter responds and through a relay activates a hammer that shatters a little flask of prussic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, then one will say to himself that the cat is still living, if in that time no atom has disintegrated. The first atomic disintegration would have poisoned it. The Ψ-function of the entire system would express this situation by having the living and the dead cat mixed or smeared out (pardon the expression) in equal parts.”

—from Erwin Schrödinger’s “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics,” regarding indeterminate quantum states and their unusual consequences. Die Naturwissenschaften, vol. 23, 1935, p. 807-812; 823-828; 844-849.


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