Shrödinger’s Cat shows history is created when something is observed

Shrödinger’s cat is an example. Erwin Shrödinger couldn’t accept the assertion by the pioneers in quantum mechanics that things don’t come into existence until they are observed or measured. Until they are observed or measured, quantum mechanics says they are in “superposition” which means all possible states at one time. They are potentials only; they don’t “exist.” He created a thought experiment to show how absurd that is. Imagine a cat is in a sealed box. In the box is a flask of poison, a radioactive source, and a Geiger counter. The radioactive source could have an atom decay and fly off of it at any time, or have no decay and no atom fly off. If the Geiger counter detects a single atom decaying from the radioactive source, the flask is shattered and the poison kills the cat. The cat has now been in the box for some time. Whether the cat is alive or dead will only be determined when someone opens the box and observes the cat. Until that time, the cat is in a state of potential liveness and deadness, but is neither alive nor dead.

When the box is opened, observing the car makes the choice: the cat is dead or alive. Reality doesn’t exist for the cat’s state until the cat is observed.

However, at that moment when the cat is observed so reality is created, a whole history of the cat’s being dead or alive is created. If the cat is alive, the sight experiences of being alive will appear: the food bowl is empty, there are excrements, there are scratches on the sides of the box. If the cat died quickly, the sight experiences of a quick death will appear: food bowl has food in it, there are no scratches on the sides of the box, and there are no excrements. Did either set of events “happen” before the box was opened? “Happen” is a slippery concept. Nothing “happened” as we think of it. All we know is the experience of seeing the cat alive or dead in the box and the experiences that accompany a cat’s dying quickly or the experiences of a cat’s being in the box for awhile come into existence at that moment.

An explanation of Shrödinger’s cat follows.


Interesting Engineering

What does Schrödinger’s Cat explain to us?