} Ahhh - after having to answer two zillion questions about woodchucks,
} Lisa and kinky sex, I finally get an interesting one!
} Schroedinger's cat is often described as a thought (Gedanken) experiment
} by ignorant authors of physics textbooks. Actually, the cat, being very
} real, very much resents being called 'gedanken', and the experiment was
} a very real one, too. The true story remains little known, however
} (having been hushed up by idol-worshipping later generations of
} physicists), so the Oracle is very happy to get the opportunity of
} telling it.
} It all happened back in '27 or '28, when Schroedinger, Born, Einstein,
} Bohr and some others of that bunch of guys were discussing the
} connection of reality and quantum mechanics over some beer. Einstein
} had just made his famous exclamation 'Aber der liebe Gott wuerfelt
} nicht!' (But the good Lord doesn't play dice!), although he (due to the
} large amount of beer ingested) had some difficulty getting the
} pronunciation right, and it actually sounded more like 'But a wood gourd
} doesn't pay twice', which, of course, is pure nonsense. (Except in the
} little-known Uhumba dialect of northern Swaziland, where it actually
} means 'A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn' - rather a
} remarkable coincidence. But I digress.)
} Bohr maintained that a quantum mechanical system actually is a
} superposition of all its possible states, until you make a measurement,
} when the system instantly collapses to just one of these states (Since
} he had just finished his seventh Carlsberg, he had some difficulty
} getting the German syntax right, but never mind, that's what he meant).
} 'Zo you mean zat, for example, zat cat over zere could be, zay, bos
} alife and dead at ze zame time?' Einstein retorted
} 'Which off zem do you mean?' asked Born, 'I zee two off zem, and zey
} actually are zuperposed (or is it ze beer? Yes, it is ze beer!)'
} 'Nonsense' replied Bohr, 'a cat is not a quatn... quamtun... *quantum*
} mechanical system!'
} 'But', said Schroedinger, struck by a thought, 'suppose ve *make* it a
} quantum zystem, by haffing a radioactive decay trigger a hammer, that
} breaks a cyanide bottle, that kills ze cat, wiss a certain probability!'
} Had the guys been slightly more sober at the moment, they might have let
} it rest at that. Now, however, Schroedinger grabbed poor Snurzi (yes,
} German cats are called things like that) and put her in a box, while
} Bohr ran down to the labs to get some cyanide, some uranium and a geiger
} counter. They rapidly connected up the apparatus, switched it on and
} went home. The next morning, they reckonned, Schnurzi would be a
} quantum mechanical superposition of 50% living cat and 50% dead cat.
} The next morning, when Schroedinger had recovered, he realized what they
} had done - as soon as they opened the box, poor Schnurzi's wave function
} would collapse into a state where she would be either dead or alive.
} Hovewer, to his horror he found that he had put the decimal point wrong,
} and that, as soon as they opened the box, they would with a probabilitiy
} of 99.5 %, not 50 % find a very dead cat.
} He immediately called his friends and they decided to leave Schnurzi in
} the box until Einstein had found out what was wrong with quantum
} mechanics. Unfortunately, he never did. All of them also swore solemn
} oaths never, never, to do a single experiment again.
} Schnurzi was, by the way, rescued by the net.physics.goddess (although
} she, due to the non-existence of Usenet at that time, was only the
} physics.goddess) a few days later, made into a cat.physics.martyr, and
} is still living in the net.heaven.
} You owe the Oracle a self-consistent theory of everything (and I mean
} *everything*, I want to use it to calculate the cosmological constant as
} well as my chances of getting a date with Lisa).