Get Your Advice From Schrodinger's Cat
For those who don't know, Schrödinger's Cat is a thought experiment designed by Austrian scientist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935 to demonstrate what he considered a flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. The experiment has been turned into the latest oracle gadget, and the geekiest and nerdiest one since the Magic 8 Ball -- Schrödinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker.
In this experiment the theoretical cat in question is sealed in a box with a flask of poison, a radioactive source, and a monitor for the radioactivity. If a single atom begins to decay, the flask is shattered and the poison kills the cat. The point of the experiment is that until the box is opened to determine whether the cat is dead or alive, the cat is actually both dead AND alive during the intervening time.
Ooooookay. There is a reason that I am a writer and not a scientist. I get hung up on how you seal a cat in a box without it freaking out so badly that it immediately breaks the flask killing you both. Fortunately this box is a lot easier to work and to understand than physics and quantum mechanics.
The box answers simple yes and no questions only, so it is somewhat more limited that the 8 Ball. Schrödinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker is for the truly important questions in life -- boxers or briefs, pepperoni or sausage, Leno or Letterman, and even deal or no deal.
Once you have posed your question you slide open the window and look in the box. For a moment the cat will be in flux between life and death. Then it will stop on one or the other. If the cat is alive the answer is yes. If the cat is dead the answer is no.
For Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, this device would represent the ultimate dumbing down of quantum mechanics. For his neighbor Penny, it is something she could finally understand. Believe me, she is not the only one.
Sadly the only thing that Schrödinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker has to do with quantum mechanics is that a physics professor might be able to use it to explain the experiment. For the rest of us it is just a cool toy to keep on our desks at work to help us decide what to have for lunch.
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Laurie Kay Olson
Clever Problem Solvers