A Schrodinger's cat question

Well, the whole idea was started by someone who opposed the idea of quantum mechanics, and was trying to show how ridiculous a “life-sized” model of quantum mechanics would be.

The uncertainty principle states that we have no real way of knowing where a particle is exactly until it’s observed. We can only predict where it PROBABLY is, thus the need for bringing particles into play.

A bit off topic, but there’s another neat side-effect of this. If you trapped a particle in an (otherwise) inescapable box, you would find that there is a very small probability that it is outside the box. That is, by pure quantum mechanics, the particle can pass right through the walls of the box.

A stupid question, if I may. Could Schrodinger’s Cat be replaced with a thought inside the head of the person sitting across from you? Assume it’s a thought that has the power to change or not change something significant in your life. There’s even a cliche to describe the duality of states, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”.

I suppose that has to do with your idea of the mind.

…but wouldn’t a many worlds theory “require” an outside observer? Or am I getting confused again?

As another wise man said:
“God not only plays dice with the universe. but He also cheats, too.” :smiley:

The many worlds system posits that the wave-form duality never collapses but instead causes the universe conceptualized as an event sequence to bifurcate into two, one containing a dead cat and the other a live one.

And of course, we all know Mrs. Schrodinger’s Quote:

You can’t use dice or a shuffled deck of cards because those are predictable. If I put the die in the cup in a particular orientation, and shake the cup in a certain way, then I can in principle calculate exactly how the die will move as a result, and which face will be up when it falls. True, this is an exceedingly difficult calculation, which is why the casinos can still make money at craps. But in the quantum case with decaying atoms, it is truly, absolutely uncalculable, even in principle, whether the atom will decay or not.

This reminds me of a odd logic puzzle. To express it most easily, let’s assume that time travel and alteration of past history is possible.

A man walks into a casino in vegas, buys a paper from the newsstand in the lobby, scans the front-page story for about twenty seconds, then goes to the craps table and makes a shot. He gets an eleven.

If I were to go back in time and somehow alter the front page story on that newspaper, (say I go and try to rob a bank the night before, which becomes the new front page news) does the man still roll an eleven??

Put another way - in any supposedly ‘random’ operation, would the mental experiences and states of mind of the people dealing with the items in question (dice, playing cards, the ball and wheel of a roulette system, balls in a hopper for a lottery drawing) so much that any change in their experiences, such as exposure to different news story in the media, things that wouldn’t have a direct and obvious connection to the game of chance… would those changes affect the results of the game of chance??

Please tell me if that didn’t make any sense… it’s an idea that I’m very fond of. Personally, I think the answer would be yes, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever found anybody else who cared.

Both human beings and dice are chaotic systems. The man’s thought processes would be affected in some trivially different way by the different headline, and would shake the dice in a very slightly different manner as a result. The dice would then move in a different manner, and most likely fall differently. But if we had a precision robot designed to perform those tasks, it would probably be capable of throwing the dice consistently.

I agree with Chronos. I’ve imagined a similar scenario, also related to gambling.

You watch a horse race on TV and know the result. You step into a time machine with the intention of going back to before the race started and cleaning up at the bookmakers. You go back to an hour before the race starts and make your bet. Will the race still turn out as expected?

Almost certainly not. The minor perturbations caused by your new presence and activity before the race will set a chain reaction of changes which will reach the racecourse and alter the result. The merest alteration of one neuron signal in the brain of one of the jockeys would be enough for him to make a slightly different movement, which in turn would affect the movement of the air, the mental activity of the other jockeys and horses as they perceived the new event, and so on. It would lead to a cascade of expanding change which would rapidly lead to an essentially new race taking place.

If you could transport yourself back in time to 10 seconds before the race, to the opposite side of the planet from the racetrack, and make a bet in an entirely enclosed system (say a bookmakers office ten miles underground with no phone or internet connection) then you might have a chance.