What would you think if a physicist told you that a cat in a box could be dead and alive at the same time? Because you know that theory really exists!
Understand how Schrödinger’s cat theory works and how it has been applied.
In 1935, physicist Erwin Schrödinger decided to show the world the Schrödinger’s cat hypothesis, where a cat inside a box could be alive and dead.
For this experiment a sealed box is needed, and inside it the following elements are placed:
A container with radioactive material;
A Geiger counter (radiation detector);
A bottle with poison.
If the container with radioactive material starts to release particles, the counter will detect their presence. This will trigger a hammer that will break the vial with poison, which will kill the cat.
In the experiment, the amount of radioactive material used would be little enough to have only a 50% chance of detection within an hour. If the geiger counter detected the radiation, the hammer would break the poison.
Since nobody knows exactly when the poison would be released, the cat can be considered both alive and dead during that time. But this duality would only happen until the box was opened, because the presence of an observer would end both realities and he would only see either a live cat or a dead cat.
What the theory says
Erwin Schrödinger used the experiment to highlight the limits of the “Copenhagen Interpretation” when applied to practical situations.
This interpretation is the most famous of quantum physics and states that, according to the laws of the subatomic world, a particle exists in all states at the same time. But this only happens until it is observed.
If there were any interference, such as a source of light to observe the phenomenon, the two realities of the subatomic world would go into shock and it would only be possible to see one of them.
Schrödinger wanted to show with this theory how absurd it would be when it affects the objects in the visible world, as in this case, a cat inside a box.
Reusing the theory
If the theory with a cat was already strange, imagine the evolution of that hypothesis!
Chen Wang, a Yale University scientist, along with his research team, argued that if an imaginary cat can be alive and dead at the same time, it could also be dead and alive in two different places at the same time. For that, he would need another box.
Wang says it’s hard for everyone to understand, even for them, but he says that by following mathematics at the microscopic level, it becomes easier.
Scientists have compared the famous story of the cat inside the box with another principle of quantum mechanics: quantum entanglement. When two interactive subatomic particles attach themselves, any change in one will influence the other.
In this experiment, they produced a tiny chamber with two cavities for the subatomic particles and connected them with a superconducting chip. With the use of electricity to induce the particles they then had two states at the same time in two places at the same time.
Probably their brains did tie a knot, but for Wang and his fellow researchers, these discoveries can help advance the field of quantum computing.
These quantum computers would probably be much faster and more powerful than the computers we have today, so they could make new, different and impressive calculations.