Quantum Kitty

"What are you doing?"

Awhile back, my friend’s cat interrupted me while I was writing a story about quantum mechanics.  I think I know why.

Quantum mechanics is a difficult subject, full of rules that defy common sense.  A scientist named Erwin Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment to help explain it.

You put a cat in a box with a small device that will either release a deadly poison, killing the cat, or do nothing at all, sparing its life.  The cat has a 50-50 chance of surviving the experiment, but until someone opens the box both possible outcomes exist simultaneously.  The cat is both alive and dead at the same time.

As odd as this seems in the real world of cats and boxes, it is true of atoms and subatomic particles.  They exist in all possible positions, doing all the things they could be doing, until someone observes them.

"Why aren't you looking at me?!"

This is the reason my friend’s cat interrupted my writing.  He was concerned that, since no one was observing him, he might turn out to be dead.  That’s why cats crave attention so much.  They understand quantum mechanics… maybe better than we do.

P.S.: I don’t know much about Erwin Schrödinger, but I really hope he didn’t own any cats.

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