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Schrödinger's Cat

In response to my recent article on antinomies a close friend e-mailed me about taking a "looong walk" to contemplate Schrodinger's cat," and she wrote of her niece taking courses in philosophy and saying Schrodinger's cat "is always a major topic of discussion."

(I rely on friends for responses to my blogs. Most readers are in a hurry and just want to read and move on. And my relatives don't pay any attention to anything I write.)

I looked up Schrödinger's cat on Wikipedia (not my ultimate source on anything), and there it was described as a "thought experiment sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935."

A mind experiment? What is a mind experiment as opposed to an experiment involving something outside our skull? I was pleased to read farther down in Wikipedia that Schrödinger's cat posed no riddle for the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962) and to read of another Nobel Prize physicist, Murray Gell-Mann (born 1929), describing the Schrodinger's cat thing as rather silly. He spoke about quantum mechanics, which is associated with the "Schrodinger cat" problem, and he wrote:

QM [quantum mechanics] principles do not apply to macroscopic objects like cats that interact with their environment due to what is called quantum decoherence. Intermixing the classical and quantum worlds always leads to hard to understand 'conundrums' because we are intermixing what should not be intermixed.

As I have previously written, paradoxes are not about the real world of problem solving. It seems to me that since antiquity, paradoxes have been puzzles for affluent people not burdened with enough real world problems to keep them busy. From ancient times philosophers were of the leisure (affluent) class. With the rise of the bourgeoisie some were members of that group. By now in the US a lot of us are affluent and don't realize it because we don't compare it with some other societies or with the world of centuries past. And we have more time for silly and not so silly games.

Doing a search on twitter I see there is a lot going on with Schrodinger's cat, and someone calls his twitter page Shrodinger's Dog. It's a little humor and a lot of nothing. There is good fun and there is silly fun. Some people into philosophy are attracted to the silly.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.