Ask Jack: Schrodinger’s Kitty

Welcome to a feature that is brand-new here at Riverside Green, titled “Ask Jack”. As with the TTAC series of the same name, I will be dispensing invaluable (or perhaps valueless) life advice to my treasured readers — but over here the questions will not necessarily be auto-related — JB

When does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other? That’s what we learn about Schrodinger’s Cat from noted physicist and science authority, Wiki Pedia. Here’s an explanation from an English major, namely moi: There are some things down in the building blocks of the universe that don’t make “decisions” until they are observed from the outside. Human beings do this all the time: you aren’t really sure if you’re going to go to the party until your friend actually texts you and asks if you’re leaving the house, at which point you make a decision. Particles do that, too. Now here’s the noodle-baking part: your brain is thought to rely on quantum mechanisms for consciousness. Which means that your decision to go to the party, or to do anything else, is simply a bunch of Schrodinger’s Cats adding up to a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Quantum computers work kind of the same way: they can hold all possible answers to a question in a “waveform” that “collapses” to one answer. If you’ve ever dated several women at one time, you know that your life consists of a waveform that collapses to a single (or, sometimes, pair of) sex partner(s) depending on the external factors. You need a date for Friday night — it could be any of them. But Girl A is sick and Girl B is being fussy and Girl C just finished doing the whole P90X program so the waveform collapses into one answer which is Girl C.

Today’s episode of “Ask Jack” comes from a fellow who wants to collapse that superposition of states and permanently date one woman or the other.

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