Schrödinger's Cat Paradox

In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger published a three-part essay on The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics in which his famous Schrödinger's cat paradox appears.  This article proposed an illustration to the problem of observing particles on a quantum mechanical level.  This was a thought experiment where a cat in an enclosed box either lived or died according to whether a quantum event occurred.  It goes as follows:

Suppose we put a cat in a cage with a radioactive atom, a Geiger counter, a hammer, and a poison bottle; further suppose that the atom in the cage has a half-life of one hour, a fifty-fifty chance of decaying  within the hour.  If the atom decays, the Geiger counter will tick; the triggering of the counter will activate the hammer, which will break the poison bottle, which will kill the cat.  If the atom doesn't decay, none of the above things happen, and the cat will be alive.  Now the question, What is the state of the cat after the hour?

If you consider the problem from a quantum perspective, then before opening the box, the cat is in a state which can be thought of as half-alive and half-dead.  This is known as a "coherent superposition" or many different solutions existing simultaneously.  However, the superposition breaks down as soon as the cat is observed either dead or alive.  This is the reason that there has never been a coherent superposition witnessed.

The paradox is that both universes, one with a dead cat and one with a live one, seemed to exist in parallel until an observer opened the box.  This parallel universe theory is called the "Many-Worlds Interpretation".  While an intriguing interpretation, it appears we are not there yet.

One problem is that the Many-Worlds Interpretation dictates that for each time a quantum paradox occurs, a new universe is created.  That means in a matter of seconds, an infinite number of universes would be created by the atoms interacting within a single human body.

Occam's Razor states, more simply, that the more complicated an explanation is, the less likely it is to be true.  The Many-Worlds Interpretation is slashed to pieces by Occam's razor due to the fact that there is no way of testing or observing a parallel universe, and by the number of universes which may be created.

Despite the problems with the theory, it is still a possibility in the world of quantum mechanics where the impossible seems to happen.


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