Schrödinger’s Cat Experiment Simplified

Schrödinger’s Cat Experiment is simply a hypothetical situation involving a scientist, a cat, a box and some poison. For my own version, I’m using explosives since it’s easier to understand. Imagine you have a cat and you put it in a box along with some explosives. The cat has a 50% chance of living and a 50% chance of dying. This much is straightforward. You don’t know whether the cat is alive or not. The only possible way you would know is to open the box and look inside. So far so good.

This is where it gets interesting. Quantum physics dictates that, before you go blundering in and opening up the box, the cat is both dead and alive. It’s in a state called “superposition”. The second you open that box, you force nature to pick one outcome: either you see a dead cat (or pieces of it, at least) or you see a traumatised, yet very alive one. Simply by observing, you can change the outcome of the entire experiment. This creates the idea that there will be no single outcome until it is observed. Meaning, until you look in the box, the cat will stay dead and alive (not to mention hungry, bored, traumatised, depressed, etc.). Obviously, people have argued that locking up a cat in the box for such a long time will surely kill it, rendering the entire experiment a failure. However, these people fail to grasp the complexity of the experiment.

Scientists have hypothesised that Schrödinger’s Cat experiment explains the concept of multiple realities and parallel universes. For example, imagine you open that box and see your cat alive and well. However, somewhere in a parallel universe, there will be another you, looking sadly into the box, only to realise that you don’t have a pet cat anymore and have to go to jail for animal abuse. Yet in another universe, you may not even have a cat to put in the box in the first place. Or, perhaps, in another universe, the cat could be putting you in a box. As you can probably see by now, the list can go on and on. Even though some things may sound outlandish or downright unbelievable, they are not impossible; in quantum, everything goes.

While it is understood that our observing causes the cat’s reality to collapse into one outcome, it leads to the question about our reality and our outcome. In essence, we are like the cat, too. Who’s observing us and forcing nature to pick one outcome? Or are there multiple realities and parallel universes? To this day, Schrödinger’s Cat experiment remains one of Quantum’s greatest paradoxes, annoying scientists everywhere. Eventually, even Schrödinger himself wished he had never met that stupid cat.

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