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The Physics Behind Schrödinger's Cat Paradox

# The feline paradox: Schrodinger's cat

A cat is placed in a steel box along with a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, a hammer, and a radioactive substance. When the radioactive substance decays (it decays as a random process), the Geiger detects it, triggers the hammer, and release the poison, which kills the cat.

Until the box is opened, the cat's state is entirely unknown. Therefore, the cat can be treated as both alive and dead simultaneously until it is observed. If you try to make predictions about the cat's status, you're possibly going to be wrong. But if you assume it's a combination of all of the possible states, you'll be correct.

Really minute things don't obey Newton's Laws. The rule that we use to govern the motion of a ball or car can't be used to explain how an electron or atom works.

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## The Physics Behind Schrödinger's Cat Paradox

nationalgeographic.com

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Key Ideas

### Erwin Schrödinger proposed a paradox

Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Schrödinger proposed a paradox in 1935 to illustrate a point in quantum mechanics about the nature of wave particles.

At the center of quantum theory is the idea of a wave function. A wave-function describes all the possible states subatomic particles can have, including energy, momentum, and position. A wave-function for a particle reveals there is some probability that it can be in any allowed position. However, you can only know the position by observing it. Without observation, you have to say that it can be doing any of the things, even if the probability is small.

### The feline paradox: Schrodinger's cat

A cat is placed in a steel box along with a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, a hammer, and a radioactive substance. When the radioactive substance decays (it decays as a random process), the Geiger detects it, triggers the hammer, and release the poison, which kills the cat.

Until the box is opened, the cat's state is entirely unknown. Therefore, the cat can be treated as both alive and dead simultaneously until it is observed. If you try to make predictions about the cat's status, you're possibly going to be wrong. But if you assume it's a combination of all of the possible states, you'll be correct.

Really minute things don't obey Newton's Laws. The rule that we use to govern the motion of a ball or car can't be used to explain how an electron or atom works.

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