From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Felis silvestrus catus: Wanted dead and alive

Schrodinger's Cat   (Image by Christian Schrim)
When Mary Todd Lincoln was asked whether her husband had any hobbies, her immediate reply was “Cats!” 

Since this occurred way off-Broadway, she must have been referring to the president’s love of Felis silvestris catus.  Turns out that Lincoln was in good company:  Mark Twain and Florence Nightingale were also crazy for house cats.

Although these 19th-century luminaries preferred their cats alive, 20th-century physicist Erwin Schrodinger was less specific.  In fact, he wasn’t quite sure what state of being his cat was in.

Schrodinger’s famous paradox “presents a cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead.”  This thought experiment presents a cat in a steel box, complete with radioactive material that may or may not trigger the release of a poisonous substance.  The mathematical equation that depicts this uncertainty expresses a “wave-particle duality” which explains how the cat may be dead and alive at the same time.


Copyright October 31, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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