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#186672 - 10/12/07 07:45 AM Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework)
ak Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/10/04
Posts: 1491
Like an idiot, I am taking another class right now, else of my photography one (which I am taking good pictures in, but not getting good scores on tests in). And the first issue is to try to explain the theory of shrodinger's cat. I have read this, many times at this point, and can not quite get the philosophy of it. My 'wants to be a teacher' roommate is gone for few days. My other roommate says 'it's that thing where the cat can be alive and dead at the same time' but can't explain it. Is this something explainable? It seems like it is suppose to 'illustrate' a period of like, 'suspension', where two opposites can exist at the same time, until you have to say which it is, and then of course, you have to look at the cat?

I'm very confused with it. Does anyone know of this thing that I'm talking about, who could explain the 'theory' of it?

Andrei


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#186673 - 10/12/07 08:52 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: ak]
FLRich Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 1404
Androsh,

Sorry buddy...quantum mechanics is way beyond my small brain's grasp. You are talking about Shrodinger and Einsein here. I'm with Leshka on this one.


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#186676 - 10/12/07 09:01 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: ak]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Wow. This is a fun one...

Little known fact: Shroedinger didn't actually believe the cat was both alive and dead...he was trying to make a case that this interpretation of quantum physics didn't make sense.

The idea is that subatomic particles...say, electrons, aren't in any specific place, unless you're measuring them. They're spread out over every possible place they could be. If an electron has a 50% chance of being here and a 50% chance of being over there, and you're not looking at it, it IS 50% here and 50% over there. But when you set up a detector, you force the electron to be somewhere specific...it "decides" where it is, but that decision is totally random. Lots of particle behavior, like nuclear decay, works that way...random, and indefinite until it's measured.

So Shroedinger said "Let's set up a situation where a cat's in a box and its life or death depends on the decay of an atom that has a 50/50 chance of decay." (If the atom decays, it releases some poison.) Since the event doesn't "decide" whether it's happened or not until it's observed, that would mean that the cat isn't alive or dead (or it's in both states) until the box is opened.

Some physicists say, "yeah, that's right"--others point out that the cat may count as an observer. There are all sorts of alternative ways to look at it, but the standard view of quantum physics does suggest that the cat's both alive and dead.

Hope this helps!

David


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#186696 - 10/12/07 10:26 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: MemoryVault]
Dewey2k Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 3069
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle certainly comes in to play here as well. The Principle in its simplest form states that we can not know the location of a particle and its speed at the same instant in time, and this applies to other similar paired-properties of particles.

The other portion of this is that we can not observe something without changing it in some way. To see something, we need photons to bounce off of it, and the energy of those photons may heat or move the object being observed.

Quantum mechanics is all about probability: the probability that an electron will be in a particular orbit around a nucleus, or that a photon will be at a particular point in space, for example. When a particle has a probability of being some where, some times it will be, and some times it won't be, but we won't know for sure until we look for it, and then we change it.

One might argue that particles are everywhere at once because they have a minute probability of being there at any given point in time, and the same goes for the properties of that particle (charge, spin, color, etc). It isn't until we look for it in a specific place that it becomes a physical particle in a particular state.



Edited by Dewey2k (10/12/07 10:26 AM)

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#186697 - 10/12/07 10:38 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: Dewey2k]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Andrei, I'm with Rich on this one. Us two simpletons will sit on the sidelines and admire the bigger brains at work. \:\)

_________________________
Eddie

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#186702 - 10/12/07 11:04 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: EGL]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Why survivors are like particles:

We're not too clear about where we are and where we're going.
If you make us tell you exactly what state we're in right now, we really have no idea where we're going next.
We can have enormous energy, but it doesn't last very long.
We don't behave like anything you're familiar with.
We can sometimes do what's supposed to be impossible.
The world is made up of us.


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#186708 - 10/12/07 11:50 AM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: MemoryVault]
Dewey2k Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 3069
MV,

Very funny, and very profound at the same time. Thanks for posting.


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#186716 - 10/12/07 01:15 PM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: Dewey2k]
cbfull Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Ohio
You guys did a pretty good job of expaining that.

One thing I didn't see is the fact that it is a thought experiment only, to try and better understand why you cannot measure both the momentum and the position of an electron at the same time, but you can separately.

The cat is neither alive nor dead until you look in the box. For this example, our eyes are the detector and the cat cannot be both alive and dead at the same time.


Wikipedia to the rescue!

_________________________
Craig

Guilt and shame have never done any of us any good at all.

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#186731 - 10/12/07 03:11 PM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: cbfull]
kellygtx Offline
Guest

Registered: 07/11/07
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas, USA
Guys -

WTF! I am so glad I am an accountant!! I don't care if the cat is alive or dead - but I can help him with his estate in any case.

_________________________
I bid you Peace.

Kelly

The time is always NOW. Breath In. Breath Out. Move On.

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#186735 - 10/12/07 03:16 PM Re: Shrodinger's cat??? (evil homework) [Re: kellygtx]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Well, our family cat hates me so I say any dead cat is a good cat (with apologies to those here that love theirs).

_________________________
Eddie

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