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Interpretations, urban legends, and Hawking

  1. Nov 13, 2015 #1
    [Mentor's note: Moved out from another thread where it was a bit of a digression]

    "Yeah, well, there are some people who spend an awful lot of time talking about the interpretation of quantum mechanics. My attitude -- I would paraphrase Goering -- is that when I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun."

    -- Hawking in the book "The Whole Shebang"

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2015 #2


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    Except that Goering never said that. The phrase comes from a German play of the early 1930s, not from Goering.
  4. Nov 13, 2015 #3
    but it is a quote of Hawking :-)
  5. Nov 13, 2015 #4


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    A question about the history here.... Did Hawking know Goering didn't really say that? Or was he suckered by an urban legend?

    The line in Schlageter's play was actually "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" "Whenever I hear of culture... I ready my Browning [pistol]", and it has been spawning imaginative memes for the best part of a century now.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  6. Nov 14, 2015 #5
    I just read a description of the experiment reported several months ago at the Australian national University where they isolated a SINGLE helium atom (really? I am a simple chemical engineer not a physicist) and performed two measurements on it - is it a wave or particle? All as Niels told us. Plus the result was affected retrospectively - delayed choice. So I agree with "when I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun" except I read something else or change the TV channel.
    Except I am pretty sure that
    (1) a cricket (baseball) does not behave like a helium atom (*)
    (2) the far side of the moon exists right now and did not come into existence during the Apollo 8 mission and then disappear again
    (3) The Newtonian-based laws that I used for fluid flow, heat transfer etc. etc. seemed to work OK during my career
    (4) Chemical reactions carried out in bulk can be safely carried out using deterministic "laws". A certain concentration of reactants given a temperature-time profile with a certain catalyst will produce ammonia (for example) at a known rate and concentration.
    I could go on
    (*) or could it explain the woeful perfomances of the England football(soccer), cricket and rugby teams.

    Should we all just Shut Up and Calculate or in my case, let someone do that while I use my computer?
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