Schrödinger's cat


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Named after Austrian physicist Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger.


Schrödinger's cat (plural Schrödinger's cats)

  1. A hypothetical cat that is depicted as being surrounded by perfectly uncertain circumstances that make an external observer absolutely unable to deem the cat either alive or dead, especially if the possibilities of survival of the cat are expected to be analysed from the point of view of quantum mechanics. Typically, these circumstances involve the cat being inside a box while being the victim of a danger that may or may not kill it, such as radiation.
    • 2000, Thalia Field, Point and line, New Directions Publishing, →ISBN, page 8:
      A cat like yours is a Schrödinger's cat, sealed up in an office where someone's disintegration provides a 50-50 chance of its death.
  2. (by extension) Any hypothetical situation whose circumstances make it impossible to see which among two contrary propositions is correct, especially if the situation is expected to be analysed from the point of view of quantum mechanics.
    • 2004, Colin Bruce, Schrödinger's Rabbits: The Many Worlds of Quantum‎, page 83:
      To see how, let us consider a nested system of Schrödinger's cats.

Related termsEdit

Proper nounEdit

Schrödinger's cat

  1. The thought experiment which was devised by Erwin Schrödinger, is usually considered a paradox, involves a Schrödinger's cat and is typically supposed to be analysed from the point of view of quantum mechanics.
  2. A Schrödinger's cat (a hypothetical cat that may or may not be dead) in particular, especially when implied to be the only Schrödinger's cat in the world.
    • 2005, Jürgen Pafel, Quantifier scope in German, illustrated edition, John Benjamins Publishing Company, →ISBN, page 21:
      'Schrödinger's cat is necessarily alive or dead.'
    • 2009, João Magueijo, A brilliant darkness: the extraordinary life and disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the troubled genius of the nuclear age, Basic Books, →ISBN, page 179:
      And you thought Schrödinger's cat was schizophrenic, unsure about life and death.
    • 2010, Rodrigo Enrico, The Physics of Stargates: Parallel Universes, Time Travel and the Enigma of Wormhole Physics, Eridanus Press, →ISBN, page 80:
      Let us return to the laboratory, where Bob is about to lift the tarp off of the transparent box containing Schrödinger's cat.