Physicists: Am I saying the right thing about Schroedinger's Cat?

Here’s how I’d have answered a particular kind of true/false test about Schroedinger’s Cat.

  1. The cat is alive. False
  2. The cat is dead. False
  3. The cat is not alive. True
  4. The cat is not dead. True.

My reasoning is that being in a superposition of states is different from being in either of the states themselves, and since the cat is in a superposition of the alive and dead states, the status of the cat is that it is not alive, and is not dead. Since it’s not alive or dead, 1 and 2 are false. Since it’s not alive, 3 is true. Since it’s not dead, 4 is true.

This question is prompted by the fact that on the radio today I heard an interview with a physicist in which the physicist said that the cat is both alive and not alive. In other words, this physicist, apparently, would answer questions one and three above both with “true.” (I don’t know what he would say about 2 and 4.)

I thought I knew the right thing to say about superpositions, but was I wrong?

(Note: Actually what the physicist said was that if a person is in a room, and is not “strongly coupled with his environment,” then if the person isn’t being observed, the person is both there and not there at the same time. I translated this into Schroedinger’s Cat talk for familiarity’s sake.)

Not a physicist. Both alive and dead.

Not a physicist. I believe that Schrödinger’s point was that it was a binary choice. The absurdity of his cat being alive and dead at the same time was critique of the Copenhagen interpretation.

Am a physicists, but I don’t think its a factual question so much as a matter of opinion on how to interpret “superposition of states”. Personally I’d say any state thats part of the superposition is “true”, and any state that isn’t in it (or has a coefficent of zero) is “false”, just out of desire to make the concepts of true/false useful in the context of quantum states.

But again, I don’t think there’s an “official” answer that most scientists would agree with.

The cat is just fine until you decide to take a look at it. Really, just trust me, it’s fine.

Dammit, you had to look, didn’t you?

Oh, well. Curiousity killed the cat.

Not to mindfark you all too hard, but there was a slim but interesting piece on NPR today -

Quantum Physics Leaps Into The Visible World

Basic gist of the story - researchers built a small (but macro sized) resonator that when supercooled, showed quantum mechanical behavior as opposed to just the plain ol’ Newtonian physics you expect a macro object to exhibit.

I’ll try to look up the paper this weekend.

So the cat CAN be alive and dead!


Not for long. The cat is an observer.

Only as long as the cat is alive. Once the cat is dead, it’s no longer an observer. Which means, the cat is no longer dead. So, it’s alive. Until it dies again. Therefore, it’s alive…

Ow, my head!

It is obligatory to post this link.

Obligatory for 2 reasons:

It is an interactive version of the silly experiment, and it links to Cecil’s Schroedinger’s cat epic poem.

Oh shit, I am alone here in my room and no-one is watching me! I guess the fact that I am posting this establishes the fact that I am here, but if I stop posting, is there a 50% probability that I might wink out of existence? Or is it that I would teleport to somewhere else? (Would my clothes teleport along with me?) :eek:

Or are some physicists not so smart as they think?

So they could see that the thing they made was sometimes there and sometimes not there? Or was sort of half-there? :dubious:

Sorry if this is not a very well thought out post, but, for the reasons explained in the previous post, I need to keep posting, and I can’t really afford to stop to think about things, or I could be in serious danger.

. .

Dammit, he’s done it again. Hey, would someone someone please observe njtt– quick like?

quantum rules apply only to quantum particles

as for the OP, the superposition of 2 states really is saying you can’t know without observing, and there’s no way to observe without changing the situation. the endgame is a neatly convenient and thus-far true conclusion that you just simply cannot know.

Of course, but everything in the Universe is a quantum particle. All you are is a very complicated bound state of a whole bunch of electrons and quarks.

I wonder if dead things counts as an observer?

This comment somehow reminded me I was playing The Game, which I’ve now just lost. :smack: :mad:

… or maybe there’s still an unobserved septimus somewhen who hasn’t lost The Game yet?? :confused:

Hey njtt, I assume you are strongly coupled with your environment.

What the physics says is that these things really are in a state of superposition. It’s not just that we can’t know which state they’re actually in–we know exactly what state they’re in, and that state is the state of superposition.

Just went looking for cites and can’t find anything relevant in the brief time available to me, so sorry about that.

Including macroscopic objects made from those particles.

For the OP, I’d say all four questions are most properly answered False. ETA: To give an analogy, suppose I’m going to flip a coin, but haven’t yet, and in your four questions, substitute coin for cat, heads for alive, and tails for dead.