Donald Rumsfeld And Schrodinger's Cat


Schrodinger's cat is a famous illustration of the principle in quantum theory of superposition, proposed by Erwin Schrodinger in 1935. Schrodinger's cat serves to demonstrate the apparent conflict between what quantum theory tells us is true about the nature and behavior of matter on the microscopic level and what we observe to be true about the nature and behavior of matter on the macroscopic level
First, we have a living cat and place it in a thick lead box. At this stage, there is no question that the cat is alive. We then throw in a vial of cyanide and seal the box. We do not know if the cat is alive or if it has broken the cyanide capsule and died. Since we do not know, the cat is both dead and alive, according to quantum law, in a superposition of states. It is only when we break open the box and learn the condition of the cat that the superposition is lost, and the cat becomes one or the other (dead or alive). We know that superposition actually occurs at the subatomic level, because there are observable effects of interference, in which a single particle is demonstrated to be in multiple locations simultaneously. What that fact implies about the nature of reality on the observable level (cats, for example, as opposed to electrons) is one of the stickiest areas of quantum physics. Schrodinger himself said, later in life, that he wished he had never met that cat.
When queried by a reporter whether Osama Bin Laden is alive or dead, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary Of Defense, replied..." the answer is yes , he is alive or dead." Not so fast Donald, he may be both alive AND dead . Consider that Osama scurried into a cave shortly after 9/11. In the cave there were provisions and among them a bottle of anthrax labeled " ARABIAN DELICACY ". Since we don't know if he opened the bottle and drank it, we must regard him as being in superposition states of alive and dead, just like Schrodinger's cat. We will know one way or the other when we break open the cave. When we do,we had better hope we find him dead. If we are expecting terrorist retaliations for the execution of a minor individual like the Pakistinian who killed two CIA employees, imagine what the world would be like if we had Osama in chains and ready to prosecute and execute. The best thing we could do is re-open the cave and throw him back in there alive with the bottle of anthrax. There is something to be said for not knowing. It is quite possible the Bush administration figured this out a long time ago and the reply to reporters questions will always be..."the answer is yes , he is alive or dead." And if they were truthful they would add" and we don't care to know."