Schrödinger’s Cat and Superposition

Some independent research from one of our RGS Physics pupils:

The Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox is a thought experiment proposed by Erwin Schrödinger:

A cat is placed in a bunker hidden from the outside world. In the bunker is a Geiger counter and a little bit of a radioactive element are in the room. Within a set time one of the atoms of the radioactive element may decay or it may not. If the Geiger counter measures radioactive decay it will release some poisonous gas, which will kill the cat.

Without looking in the bunker to see the outcome of the experiment we have no way of knowing if the cat is alive or dead. This means the cat is effectively in a state of superposition – both alive AND dead (according to quantum theory). It is our decision to look that forces one of these realities over the other (curiosity really could have killed the cat).

This thought experiment can be used to explain how electrons can therefore be both a wave and a particle simultaneously, yet when we use experiments to see if it is a light or a wave the result is one or the other. This experiment can also be used as evidence for an multiverse theorem, in the case of the cat there can be two different outcomes to the experiment. It is possible that each of these outcomes happen simultaneously but along two separate tangents (two separate ‘realities’) and when we look in as observers we are forced down one of these tangents, but it is entirely possible that in the other ‘reality’ the opposite outcome to the experiment happened.

Until we look both paths are plausible simultaneously.
Until we look both paths are plausible simultaneously.

Bibliography/Further Reading:
In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin


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