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  1. #1
    Ginkgo
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    Default Schrödinger's Cat

    Inquiring minds want to know what Schrödinger's cat is all about, how it relates to quantum mechanics, and superposition.


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    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    Schrodinger's Cat is just a way of saying that you don't know which way something is until you settle the question by finding out. Finding out whether the cat is dead or alive is comparable to peaking out your window and finding out whether it's sunny or cloudy. Nothing mysterious is going on. Superposition is just a way of expressing the possible observations, along with their probabilities of occurring, as a single mathematical entity. It would be very fanciful to think that the cat is both alive and dead before you look at it, and that your looking at it causes it to die all the way or come entirely back to life.

    It's worth mentioning that there are some observations, though, in which the means of making the observation does play a causal role on the thing being observed; e.g. your walking into a room full of people will allow you to see who is in the room, and your presence there as an observer will also effect what you see the people doing; some of them will likely glance in your direction, and more subtly, your vantage point itself will allow you to see some things while other things remain hidden from you. This kind of thing is a major point in physics, where the goal of an experiment is to get an observation of phenomena as they actually are, independent of any subjective influence. Scientists have found that this is impossible, because the tools that they use to make an observation will, like a person walking into a room and looking around him, always in some subtle way decide what they end up seeing. Schrodinger's Cat is not a very good way of illustrating this, though, because the cat is killed or given a reprieve by the box, not by the person who opens it. If the cat's life hinged (literally) on some mechanism in the hinges of the box, it would be a more apt illustration of how observing something determines, even if only in an extremely passive sense, what is observed.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]

  3. #3
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    Inquiring minds want to know what Schrödinger's cat is all about, how it relates to quantum mechanics, and superposition.
    How much understanding do you have of differential equations and basic statistics?

    If not, do you have any stringed instruments?

    Note about Polaris' post. It is not about human 'observation'. The superposition can decohere into a definite eigenstate due to quantum interactions, regardless of whether this interaction is formally observed or not. The interesting point is that we can only associate the system with a definite eigenstate at the moment of interaction. At other times, a superposition is a more natural assumption, at least if you discard classical notions of physics.

    A statistical view is deemed acceptable in most sciences, so why not physics?

  4. #4
    Senior Member SRT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
    Schrodinger's Cat is just a way of saying that you don't know which way something is until you settle the question by finding out. Finding out whether the cat is dead or alive is comparable to peaking out your window and finding out whether it's sunny or cloudy. Nothing mysterious is going on. Superposition is just a way of expressing the possible observations, along with their probabilities of occurring, as a single mathematical entity. It would be very fanciful to think that the cat is both alive and dead before you look at it, and that your looking at it causes it to die all the way or come entirely back to life.

    It's worth mentioning that there are some observations, though, in which the means of making the observation does play a causal role on the thing being observed; e.g. your walking into a room full of people will allow you to see who is in the room, and your presence there as an observer will also effect what you see the people doing; some of them will likely glance in your direction, and more subtly, your vantage point itself will allow you to see some things while other things remain hidden from you. This kind of thing is a major point in physics, where the goal of an experiment is to get an observation of phenomena as they actually are, independent of any subjective influence. Scientists have found that this is impossible, because the tools that they use to make an observation will, like a person walking into a room and looking around him, always in some subtle way decide what they end up seeing. Schrodinger's Cat is not a very good way of illustrating this, though, because the cat is killed or given a reprieve by the box, not by the person who opens it. If the cat's life hinged (literally) on some mechanism in the hinges of the box, it would be a more apt illustration of how observing something determines, even if only in an extremely passive sense, what is observed.
    I thought that it had to do with quantum probability. I.e. that all things and events are possible but that by collecting more data we can conclude that certain things and events are more likely to be true than other things and events. That there are no definitive answers, only probabilities.

    Wasn't Heisenberg the one who discovered that the act of observing particles in motion affect their trajectory? I don't think it has much to do with Schrodinger's cat. But then again my knowledge of physics is pretty poor.

    *will wait for the smarties to come and clarify this concept

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    AKA Nunki Polaris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SRT
    Wasn't Heisenberg the one who discovered that the act of observing particles in motion affect their trajectory? I don't think it has much to do with Schrodinger's cat. But then again my knowledge of physics is pretty poor.
    Heisenberg's discovery is related to Schrodinger's Cat in that they both illustrate the connection between observation and what is observed. The difference between them is that Heisenberg's discovery strictly concerns the role of observation, where Schrodinger's Cat is focused as much on that as it is on the state of uncertainty (called a superposition when mathematically formalized along with the probabilities of different resolutions for that state of uncertainty) that precedes an observation.
    [ Ni > Ti > Fe > Fi > Ne > Te > Si > Se ][ 4w5 sp/sx ][ RLOAI ][ IEI-Ni ]

  6. #6
    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SRT View Post
    Wasn't Heisenberg the one who discovered that the act of observing particles in motion affect their trajectory? I don't think it has much to do with Schrodinger's cat.
    Not quite. Heisenburg's Uncertainty principle states that the precision of the position and momentum of the quantum particle in question is inherently limited. Increasing the precision of of the position decreases the precision of the momentum.

    This was not a result of experiment, but Heisenberg's inequality (or non-commutativity as he originally derived it) along with related inequalities (based on other physical properties) drops straight out of the math.

    The point is that the limits implied by the uncertainty principle are not 'experimental' limits, but physical limits.

    So when electrons are visualised, according to QM we don't consider them to exist at a discrete point in space. There is however a probability density; areas where you are more likely to have an interaction with an electron. These interactions have limits with regards to the momentum and position as limited by the uncertainty principle.

    Oh and the electron does not 'orbit' the nucleus either as popularised by the certain popular atomic icons. While the electron does have angular momentum analogous to that of an orbiting planet, as well as a spin analogous to a rotating planet, quantum mechanics cannot describe it as a point particle orbiting the nucleus.

    None of the math in quantum mechanics was new. You will note how similar Heisenberg's inequality looks to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauchy%...arz_inequality

    Likewise, Max Born's "probability amplitude" interpretation of the wavefunction was natural as the math looks so similar to that of probability theory. (they called it probability density)

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  8. #8
    . Blank's Avatar
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    While this is some enlightening information, it may be best to drop some knowledge in Layman's terms.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  9. #9
    Ginkgo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Architectonic View Post
    How much understanding do you have of differential equations and basic statistics?

    If not, do you have any stringed instruments?

    Note about Polaris' post. It is not about human 'observation'. The superposition can decohere into a definite eigenstate due to quantum interactions, regardless of whether this interaction is formally observed or not. The interesting point is that we can only associate the system with a definite eigenstate at the moment of interaction. At other times, a superposition is a more natural assumption, at least if you discard classical notions of physics.

    A statistical view is deemed acceptable in most sciences, so why not physics?
    I do have a 6 string guitar yes.

    Ok, so I thought quantum objects were the only objects who's attributes change according to how they observed. I do have some basic statistics knowledge and yes I have experience with simple differential equations.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    Inquiring minds want to know what Schrödinger's cat is all about, how it relates to quantum mechanics, and superposition.

    It's a thought experiment Schrodinger came up with to try to disprove the Copenhagen interpretation.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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