- #1

StatusX

Homework Helper

- 2,564

- 1

## Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm sure this has been thought of before, since it's a very natural extension of the original thought experiement, but I'm too lazy to look for it, so I'll start a new topic.

Say you carry out the schrodinger's cat experiment. The gist is there is a cat in a box, and the box contains something that will kill the cat (I won't go into the details here) with a 50% chance, depending on some microscopic event, like the radioactive decay of a nucleus.

Quantum theory tells us that the nucleus is in a wavefunction that is a superposition of two states: one where it decays and one where it doesn't. When we observe it, this wavefunction collapses, and the nucleus has either decayed or it hasn't, not both. We can precisely calculate the odds of these two events, but no additional amount of information can help us predict with certainty which we will observe.

The point of the cat is that we have now linked a macroscopic object to this microscopic event, and exposed the weirdness to a thing closer to our intuition. We now have to say that the cat is in a superposition of a dead state and an alive state, and until we observe it there's no way of knowing which will appear.

Some use this to suggest the wavefunction collapse is brought about when a microscopic system interacts with a macroscopic device, like a cat or a photon counter. I don't know the logic behind this, but it would seem such a suggestion is within our current ability to verify or falsify, and since it isn't widely accepted I'll assume it lays on a tenuous argument. But if someone knows better, please let me know.

Another idea is that the wavefunction collapses when observed by a conscious being. Maybe cats are conscious, maybe they aren't, but surely the experimenter is, and when he observes the cat, there's no superposition in his mind of a dead cat and a live one.

But now say this entire setup is in an enclosed area, and another experimenter is waiting outside. To him, the entire room is in a superposition. Even after the experimenter observes the cat at 12:00, the room is in a superposition of one state with a living cat and a relieved experimenter and one with a dead one and an experimenter with some regret. But of course, the 1st experimenter at 12:01 is in no such superposition, it turned out exactly one way for him.

So is the 2nd experimenter wrong? Despite him having all the physical information and not being able to make a prediction with certainty, is there really an answer lying somewhere? A hidden variable in the 1st experimenter's consciousness?

Say you carry out the schrodinger's cat experiment. The gist is there is a cat in a box, and the box contains something that will kill the cat (I won't go into the details here) with a 50% chance, depending on some microscopic event, like the radioactive decay of a nucleus.

Quantum theory tells us that the nucleus is in a wavefunction that is a superposition of two states: one where it decays and one where it doesn't. When we observe it, this wavefunction collapses, and the nucleus has either decayed or it hasn't, not both. We can precisely calculate the odds of these two events, but no additional amount of information can help us predict with certainty which we will observe.

The point of the cat is that we have now linked a macroscopic object to this microscopic event, and exposed the weirdness to a thing closer to our intuition. We now have to say that the cat is in a superposition of a dead state and an alive state, and until we observe it there's no way of knowing which will appear.

Some use this to suggest the wavefunction collapse is brought about when a microscopic system interacts with a macroscopic device, like a cat or a photon counter. I don't know the logic behind this, but it would seem such a suggestion is within our current ability to verify or falsify, and since it isn't widely accepted I'll assume it lays on a tenuous argument. But if someone knows better, please let me know.

Another idea is that the wavefunction collapses when observed by a conscious being. Maybe cats are conscious, maybe they aren't, but surely the experimenter is, and when he observes the cat, there's no superposition in his mind of a dead cat and a live one.

But now say this entire setup is in an enclosed area, and another experimenter is waiting outside. To him, the entire room is in a superposition. Even after the experimenter observes the cat at 12:00, the room is in a superposition of one state with a living cat and a relieved experimenter and one with a dead one and an experimenter with some regret. But of course, the 1st experimenter at 12:01 is in no such superposition, it turned out exactly one way for him.

So is the 2nd experimenter wrong? Despite him having all the physical information and not being able to make a prediction with certainty, is there really an answer lying somewhere? A hidden variable in the 1st experimenter's consciousness?

Last edited: