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Clarification of observation

  1. Jul 11, 2010 #1
    So please pardon me for my naive question, before I even ask...

    Observation seems to be something that is more complex than what it appears to be on the surface. Another poster posed the question about Schrodinger's cat, and the fact that the cat must be an observer in the equation. However, because us (humans) have no record of that the cat observes then we are unable to see what is going on inside the box.

    Many other posters seems to continually ask questions regarding detection of photons, and what if I set up a detector that does not really work. Well, it makes sense that there is no observation, but from my meager understanding that non-working detector IS actually detecting, and therefore the wave function, being observed, "collapses" to a particle.

    Wikipedia claims that an observer is, in the quantum mechanical world, a measurement. But, as many people have pointed out, how can one measure something with a detector that is broken/ not working? And how can one not consider what the cat is observing a measurement? Is it not considered a measurement because "we," the humans, are not able to recognize the actual measurement or observation?

    To be honest, I think half of this post is the beer speaking :P But to me it seems quite perplexing, and it sort of resonates the term "observing with observation," at least in my eyes. I would love for someone to explain to me in more detail about what is going on. And please, do not hesitate to use math in your explanation. While I have a limited background in math (I am in the process of completing calc 3, which is doing vector calculus mainly), I would love to see what is behind these questions, if there is in fact math behind it.

    Long post, but thanks for reading through, if you do ^_^
  2. jcsd
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