To be and not to be. That is the equation

9 febrero 2018

To be and not to be a cat, that is the equation 



No one knows the name of the cat, even if it is alive or dead, but most people agree that he, or maybe she, is a strange animal. Did the cat agree to be put in the box, or was he forced in to it? We will never know. But being put in a windowless box is an insane decision. Never a smart cat would make such a decision.

In fact, the only furniture in the box was a hammer, a bottle filled with a poisonous product and a mysterious device based on some radioactive substance not sufficiently explained. So, was he an intelligent or foolish cat? Or, as many scientists said, were they both at the same time?

From the cat's point of view, the strangest question of the whole experiment was why the scientist doctor chose a cat instead of a rat, as is usual in most laboratory experiments. Or a dog, that he would surely be more collaborative because they are known as man’s best friend. A cat, as everyone agrees, is more unpredictable and could break the strange furniture in the box and ruin the whole experiment.

So, from the cat's point of view, the fool, without any reasonable doubt, was the doctor. An intelligent man for his colleagues but, a fool for cats. As usual, reality always depends on who is looking at it!

If you carefully analyze the doctor's experiment, you can see an obvious flaw in it. If the box had been properly sealed, to avoid external influences on it, the cat will be dead in a short period of time by suffocation, whether the radioactive substance acted or not. Betting on death is a winning strategy if you play a game with the doctor’s experiment.

You can fix this defect by giving more room to the cat and providing some water and food. But anyway, although all these arrangements are provided, we could better understand the results of the experiment using a more interesting perspective: the cat's point of view again.

The cat would say that if the lid of the box is opened, then there is no doubt that the doctor is alive. Or that the doctor's wave function collapsed in a living state, if you prefer. But if the lid doesn't open for a while, then the cat can't tell if the doctor is dead or asleep. Or, as someone likes to say, the doctor must be in superposition of both states.

Furthermore if the cat died from the hammer, poison or suffocation, it is easy to understand that he would not be interested in knowing what the hell happened with the doctor, so this scenario should be considered outside the framework of the experiment.

For the cat accordingly, it goes without saying that his appreciation of the meaning of the real world used to be so simple in his heart. So, his final conclusion, on this matter, was that a rat is a rat if you can see it, catch it or eat it. Otherwise, you can only imagine rats or play, in the dreamland, with the most elegant equations that describe them.

The same explanation that the philosopher Plato made in his work Allegory of the Cave fifteen hundred years ago. Where a cat, perhaps a predecessor of the one that appears in this story, watched its strange shadow cast on the wall while listening carefully to what the sages in the cave said: "It can be a cat and maybe not, so we can definitely say that It's the beautiful equation of a cat's wave function”.

Josep M. Vilà


© Josep Vila 2020