817: Mutual

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A universe that needed someone to observe it in order to collapse it into existence would be a pretty sorry universe indeed.
Title text: A universe that needed someone to observe it in order to collapse it into existence would be a pretty sorry universe indeed.


The comic depicts Cueball and Megan simultaneously thinking about each other thinking about each other thinking about each other etc etc. this is one of the many comics that feature meta things. It may be a deliberate prelude to the next comic.

The title text refers to the aspect of Quantum Mechanics where a system can exist in more than one state until it is observed. An observation is required in order to "collapse" the system into a particular state; the thought experiment of Schrödinger's cat is a popular way of explaining this concept. The title text proposes that, if a universe needed to be observed to exist, as with a quantum state, it would be a pretty sorry universe indeed, as who would exist to observe it if it needed to be observed in the first place?


[Cueball and Megan are inside each others' thought bubbles.]

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This is the comic strip that caused xkcdexplained.com to exclaim "fuck this I'm done" and discontinue updating the site. It's probably worth mentioning that: A) It's actually Megan and Cueball's thoughts that are thinking of each other; and B) Both of them are in positions that indicate loneliness or distress. Perhaps it is a commentary on the irony of mutually unrequited love. 23:50, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

As an afterthought, if the universe needs to be observed in order to exist, who will observe it? Some super-universal entity?

By your logic, yes. Unfortunately, your logic does not fully grasp the backend of quantum mechanics. No one's does. Feynman's didn't. Mine doesn't. And therefore, the measurement paradox (i.e. the philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics) will remain up in the air until someone can frame it for our classically raised and trained minds. Or maybe they'll just go many-worlds on our asses? --Quicksilver (talk) 02:39, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Quicksilver for the reply... accurate and succint, bravo. Of course, they've gone many-worlds on our asses an infinite number of times already... Squirreltape (talk) 19:21, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Title text is more likely a reference to Anthropic_principle 11:32, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

In the TV series The Prisoner, those inmates who refused to follow the rules were called "unmutual". Might this be a reference?
--Lou Crazy (talk) 15:23, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

I'm thinking the title text may refer to Einstein's one quote: "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."-- 18:49, 29 July 2018 (UTC)