Schrodingers Cat

Essay by kcpaigeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2005

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Schrodinger's Cat Experiment

By: Casey Paige

Schrödinger's cat is dead and Schrödinger's cat is alive at the same time. How can this be and why did Schrödinger ever state such a preposterous thing? Schrödinger uses this analogy to represent quantum entanglement.

Schrödinger's experiment involves a sealed box (allowing no interference from the outside), which contains a cat, and a closed canster of poisonous gas. Attached to the gas canister is a mechanism containing a radioactive nuclus. When the nucleus decays, it emits a particle that triggers a mechanism which opens the canster, there by killing the cat. Since the nucleus, as long as it remains unobserved, is in a superposition of the "decayed" and "not decayed" states, then it logically follows that the cat must also be in a superposition of "alive" and "dead" states until the moment when the box is opened and its contents are observed by the scientist performing the experiment.

The idea that the cat's fate is decided only when the box is opened seems to make no common sense, so Schrödinger argued there must be some rules defining when the system "collapses" into one of the two states, and that this does not happen simply when the system is "observed". (Schrödinger's Cat) This type of crossing between two separate entities into 1 state is called entanglement. In Schrödinger's words,

"When two systems, of which we know the states by their respective representatives, enter into temporary physical interaction due to known forces between them, and when after a time of mutual influence the systems separate again, then they can no longer be described in the same way as before, viz. by endowing each of them with a representative of its own. I would not call that one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the...