“Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

Back to Article
Back to Article

“Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

Sam Bisno, Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Greetings, and welcome to the first installment of a (hopefully) bi weekly segment entitled “Something Cool” (hit me up if you have a better name). Tune into this column every other Thursday to learn about just that – something cool. I’ll break down fascinating concepts into simple terms for your enjoyment. Pretty much anything you can imagine is on the table. Up this week is the infamous thought experiment known as Schrödinger’s cat.

The proposition is this: imagine a cat. Yes, the cute and cuddly, furry animal we all adore. Now imagine that cat trapped in a box with a radioactive ticker and a vial of hydrocyanic acid. Still with me? No? Okay. Well, the ticker will go off if it senses any single atom decaying within the box, and there is a 50% chance of this happening within an hour. When it does, the ticker will trigger a hammer to be dropped on the flask of acid, shattering it and immediately terminating the existence of the poor feline. However, if it does not detect any radioactivity in the chamber, it will not release the poison, and the cat will continue to live out its miserable existence trapped in a box indefinitely.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Due to a widely accepted interpretation of quantum mechanics known as the Copenhagen interpretation, which states that two possible outcomes of any scenario only stop being a superposition once one of the two is observed, Schrödinger contested that the cat could actually hypothetically be both dead and alive at the same time. Let’s translate that. Basically, until someone comes along, opens the box, and checks the cat’s pulse, it could, in theory, exist in two realities – one in which the radioactive ticker goes off and kills it, and one in which no such event occurs – simultaneously. And there’s no way to prove him wrong. Alternative interpretations, such as the many worlds theory among many, many others, suggest that the cat may actually live out both possible scenarios, but that only one of them occurs in our world, while the other exists detached from out reality. Schrödinger’s musings have served as the vessel for endless debate and experimentation on quantum theory since their birth in 1935. Cool, right?

That’s all for the very first “Something Cool”. Stop by in two weeks to learn how to be in Pythagoras’s cult.

If you have a topic you’d like me to research, or you have a suggestion for future installments, email me at [email protected]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Navigate Left
  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    The Problem with Dress Codes

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Obama Seniors on Their Last Year of High School

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    Creative Writing

    Hear Me Out

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Youth Participatory Budget Council Presents Proposal on Gentrification to City Council

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Obama Baseball Wins Walk-Off Thriller

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    UPMC-Highmark Consent Decree: Where We Stand

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Summer Lee Announces Police Reform Proposals in Response to Shootings, Protests

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Obama YAG Wins Big at Model Convention

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the week: Jason Thomas

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    A Day After Protests, Students Share Why They Didn’t Go

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Who Will be the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2020?

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Michael Rosfeld’s Acquittal is Just Another in a Long Line of Abuses of Power

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Michael Rosfeld Acquitted on All Charges for the Killing of Antwon Rose II

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week: Mya Young

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    “Savior Samuel” Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Dr. Knox and Mr. Mal

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week: Raven Haston

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Northside Chronicle Editor Ashlee Green on Hyper-Local Journalism

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    The Green Book

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Why Going BPA-Free Might Not Be As Great As You Think

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week Talaya Caldwell

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Responses to The Hate U Give

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Black Life

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week: Ava Eckenrode

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Senior of the Week: Ta’Shown Taylor

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Students Frustrated by New Bus Pass Failures

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    LeadYoung Initiative: Sophie Levitt

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Reflecting on the Life of Jonathan Freeman

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    Author, Harvard Professor Jill Lepore on the Historical Record and the Direction of the Future

  • “Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat

    All Posts

    An Interview with Mayor Marita Garrett

Navigate Right
Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies
“Something Cool” No. 1: Schrödinger’s Cat