Tuesday 1 May 2018

Inside the Box, a short story inspired by Schrodinger's Cat

Schrödinger was bored. He'd been stuck in this box for an eternity. Where was his salmon? Where were his toys? There wasn't even any catnip to be found. He knew better than to touch the strange objects in the corner so scratched the side of the box instead. Outside the two legs were talking.

According to the Copenhagen interpretation, particles exist in all states at once until they're observed and here we consider the cat to represent a particle” a tall bespectacled female said to a group of young two legs gathered round her in the windowless lab.

So, professor, you're saying that the cat is both alive and dead?” asked a female with her hair in a tight bun “Awesome!”

Wow!” Schrödinger shouted from the box “Wow!”

The professor and her students looked round at the noise then shrugged their shoulders.

That goes entirely against common sense” said a male in a Hello Kitty t-shirt.

Wow! Wow! Wow!” Schrödinger's calls came to a crescendo.

Silence reigned in the lab for a few seconds before the professor cleared her throat “Well someone or something seems to be impressed” she said before continuing with her explanations. “Schrödinger himself originally used this thought experiment to demonstrate the practical limitations of the Copenhagen interpretation.”

If this is a thought experiment wondered Schrödinger, why am I locked away in this box when there are mice to be chased?

What about the many worlds interpretation, dude?” asked a thin male with a wispy beard.

Several students giggled.

Let him continue!” the professor nodded at the bearded male.

Well, dude, once we open the box then the universes split and in one universe the cat is, like, dead and in the other, like, it's alive!”

Please let me go into the universe where I'm alive! Schrödinger shut his eyes and crossed his paws.

Doood!” a short haired woman said “Like no-one believes that crap surely?”

More giggles.

A lot of what we're talking about here is only theory!” the professor said. “And strange though it seems, the many world interpretation has some scientific validity and in fact there may be universes where all sorts of different cats turn out to be sitting in this box – cuddly or bad tempered? Ginger or black?. Many people, like most of you, are cynical, I know but it's worth bearing in mind that much of science is odd, so it pays to keep an open mind”.

Never mind an open mind, how about having an open box, thought Schrödinger. I'm dying of boredom in here.

Wow! Wow! Wow!” he scratched on the side of the box.

I think it may be time to open the box and see whether our subject is alive.” the professor said. “Remember, there are only two possibilities: yes or no".

The students gathered around in excitement as the professor carefully lifted the lid.

Wow!” Schrödinger leapt from the box and looked around the lab. He licked his paws carefully one by one as he looked down on the tiny two legs looking up at him from round the table.

Delighted to see I've ended up in the universe where I'm in control!” he roared.

He set up the Geiger counter, the radioactive substance and the vial of poison on the counter top then stalked out of the lab before the tiny two legs even registered there was a giant cat in the lab. He locked the lab door and turned to the waiting cats in the hallway.

According to the Copenhagen interpretation, particles exist in all states at once until they're observed” Schrödinger said “and here we consider the two legs to represent particles.”

Originally published on the Quantum Shorts website

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