Editing 45: Schrodinger

Jump to: navigation, search

Warning: You are not logged in. Your IP address will be publicly visible if you make any edits. If you log in or create an account, your edits will be attributed to your username, along with other benefits.

The edit can be undone. Please check the comparison below to verify that this is what you want to do, and then save the changes below to finish undoing the edit.
Latest revision Your text
Line 19: Line 19:
 
Schrödinger's cat is a famous thought experiment proposed by {{w|Erwin Schrödinger}} to question the {{w|Copenhagen interpretation}} of quantum mechanics.
 
Schrödinger's cat is a famous thought experiment proposed by {{w|Erwin Schrödinger}} to question the {{w|Copenhagen interpretation}} of quantum mechanics.
  
Under the {{w|Copenhagen interpretation}}, any particle is described by a {{w|wave function}} that allows one to calculate the probability that it is any given state. A radioactive nucleus with a half-life of one hour, for instance, would have a wave-function that would split, showing two distinct states (decayed, undecayed) that change over time until some "observation" forced the wave-function into one state or another (called "collapsing the wave-function"). Before the wave-function is collapsed, it is incorrect to say that the atom has decayed or has not decayed; it is in a "superposition" of states, effectively both decayed and undecayed.  
+
Under the {{w|Copenhagen interpretation}}, any particle is described by a {{w|wave function}} that allows one to calculate the probability that it is any given state. A radioactive nucleus with a half-life of one hour, for instance, would have a wave-function that would split, showing two distinct states (decayed, undecayed) that change over time until some "observation" forced the wave-function into one state or another (called "collapsing the wave-function"). Before the wave-function is collapsed, it is incorrect to say that the atom has decayed or has not decayed; it is in a "superposition" of states, effectively partially decayed and partially undecayed.  
  
 
Schrödinger thought that the Copenhagen interpretation was absurd, and devised the below thought experiment to show this. The experiment goes as follows: Put a cat in a box, he said, with a device triggered by the decay of an atom with a half-life of one hour that would release a poisonous gas if triggered. Then, after waiting an hour, the Copenhagen interpretation would say that the atom is in a superposition of decayed and undecayed states, and thus, by extension, the cat would be in a superposition of alive and dead states. Only when the box is opened would the wave-function for the cat collapse into either alive or dead states. This thought experiment is not meant to be taken literally, as every interaction of a particle with another constitutes an observation, and many particles must interact for a cat to die, but still his argument was that since it is absurd for a cat to be both alive and dead, it is absurd for an atom to be both decayed and undecayed.
 
Schrödinger thought that the Copenhagen interpretation was absurd, and devised the below thought experiment to show this. The experiment goes as follows: Put a cat in a box, he said, with a device triggered by the decay of an atom with a half-life of one hour that would release a poisonous gas if triggered. Then, after waiting an hour, the Copenhagen interpretation would say that the atom is in a superposition of decayed and undecayed states, and thus, by extension, the cat would be in a superposition of alive and dead states. Only when the box is opened would the wave-function for the cat collapse into either alive or dead states. This thought experiment is not meant to be taken literally, as every interaction of a particle with another constitutes an observation, and many particles must interact for a cat to die, but still his argument was that since it is absurd for a cat to be both alive and dead, it is absurd for an atom to be both decayed and undecayed.

Please note that all contributions to explain xkcd may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then do not submit it here.
You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource (see explain xkcd:Copyrights for details). Do not submit copyrighted work without permission!

To protect the wiki against automated edit spam, we kindly ask you to solve the following CAPTCHA:

Cancel | Editing help (opens in new window)