Erwin Schrödinger, the Austrian quantum physicist, has been celebrated in a Google Doodle which depicts his most widely-known contribution to the field: the Schrödinger’s Cat mind experiment.
In the hypothetical experiment, which the physicist devised in 1935, a cat is placed in a sealed box along with a radioactive sample, a Geiger counter and a bottle of poison.
If the Geiger counter detects that the radioactive material has decayed, it will trigger the smashing of the bottle of poison and the cat will be killed.
The experiment was designed to illustrate the flaws of the ‘Copenhagen interpretation’ of quantum mechanics, which states that a particle exists in all states at once until observed.
If the Copenhagen interpretation suggests the radioactive material can have simultaneously decayed and not decayed in the sealed environment, then it follows the cat too is both alive and dead until the box is opened.
Common sense tells us this is not the case, and Schrödinger used this to highlight the limits of the Copenhagen interpretation when applied to practical situations. The cat is actually either dead or alive, whether or not it has been observed.
Schrödinger’s Cat by Ghost Of A Saber-tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon + friend)
The past is a Pandora’s Box
And truth is just a paradox
Like promising to never lie
Let sleeping dogs and lovers lie
You say our love is immortal
Like the blood of a sea turtle
But wasn’t dear Dorian Gray
Lone as an asteroid in space
The clock puts its hands round
The hourglass waist
Like a tree that falls alone
In the woods without a sound
I can’t be sure that I exist
When you are not around
From Socrates to Aristotle
Man’s greatest thoughts and deeds
Are mere love notes in cheap beer bottles
Floating out to sea
We placed our bets about his fate
Standing over Shroedinger’s grave
As Pavlov’s dog chased the cat
His heart bled like a red Rorschach