January 3, 2005

Schrodinger's Baby

Schrodinger's Cat is a famous imaginary experiment* meant to illustrate quantum physics: you have a cat in a box with some poisonous substance, and as long as you don't open the box to check, there's always a 50% probability that the cat's alive.

But if you put a baby down for a nap, and then you go back to check on her, and you open the door, and that doorknob makes a squeaky sound, there is about a 100% probability that you woke her up just as she was finally drifting off to sleep.

Conclusion: leave the door slightly ajar.

* 'Famous among quantum physicists, anyway, which is like 'Famous in Germany.'


But, we have cats. If we leave the door slightly ajar, isn't there a 75% probability then that the cats have gone in there and woken her up? And they did, what is the probability we would then put the cats in a box with some poisonous substance?

DISCLAIMER: the above is just a joke - we would never really put our cats in a box.

hahaha... so true!

either that or, when you go to open the door to check on said baby - the air conditioning will kick on and wake said baby up.

Actually, Schrodinger's model proposed that the cat will be 50% dead AND alive as long as it remains unobserved. The observation itself creates the actual state. The baby, in analogy, would only be awake or asleep when observed.

Leaving the door ajar removes the peculiar nature of quantum mechanics by allowing the observation to intrude continuously. We accomplish the same thing by using a Web cam and iChat software to monitor our baby while he's napping.

I guess they didn't have Web cams in Schrodinger's time.

In our house there is a 50% probability that one of the two cats that are prone to yelling will do so during the nap, outside the ajar door. This has prompted me to make foolish threats of the "I'll make an example of you for the others of your kind" variety.

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