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What Is Schrödinger’s cat? Schrödinger’s cat refers to a thought experiment
proposed by the renowned physicist Erwin Schrödinger who used it to illustrate the weirdness of
quantum theory. Quantum theory says that until a particle
is measured and observed, it actually exists in all the states it could possibly be in,
simultaneously. So if there is a statistical probability that
this particle could be found here in one state, here in another state, here in another state
and here in another state, then the particle will in fact be existing in all of those states
at once. This is referred to as the particle being in a superposition. When the particle is measured the superposition
collapses and the particle chooses one state to be in over all of the others and this is
the state that our measuring instrument will observe. If this is true then it should apply to larger
objects since all matter is made up of particles. But of course we know that that does not happen.
We observe larger objects occupying only one state. Schrödinger came up with the cat example to
bring home just how odd the behaviour of particles as described by quantum theory is. In this experiment a cat is placed in a covered
box with a radioactive sample that has a 50% chance of decaying and killing the cat. While the box is covered we have no idea if
the cat is dead or alive and only once we open the box will we know if the cat made
it or not. So if we think of the cat like a particle,
using the superposition principle we would say that while the box was covered and the
cat was not being observed, the cat was both dead and alive in order for it to be all the
states it could possibly be in. Only when we lifted the box to observe the
cat, that is once we carried out our act of measurement, did the cat’s superposition
collapse for it to be either dead or alive. Common sense tells us that before we uncovered
the box the cat was either dead or alive but not both at the same time and our act of observing
didn’t force one outcome over the other. But common sense is not something we can cling
onto when studying the quantum realm. Countless experiments have shown us that sub atomic
particles behave in strange ways that we don’t observe in larger matter. There is a theory called the many worlds theory
that states that anything that can happen does happen. So when Schrödinger’s cat
was observed in one universe the cat was found to be dead and in another universe the cat
was found to be alive. The theory explains it like this: when the
cat was in the covered box it was in the superposition of being both dead and alive. When
the box was uncovered a split in the Universe occurred where in one Universe the cat was
dead and in another the cat was alive. The implications of this are mind boggling. Every time there is more than one possible
option available for the Universe, the Universe splits and creates copies where all possible
outcomes come true. So for example there could be a world where Hitler won World War 2, a
world where mankind never made it to the moon and a world where penicillin was never discovered. There could also theoretically be worlds that are
much more advanced than us, a world where humans have been able to glimpse further and
deeper into the workings of the Universe and have even been able to achieve immortality.
If that was the case then every person has achieved quantum immortality in one alternate
reality or another. As always we hope you enjoyed this video and
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