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This Twist on Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox Has Major Implications for Quantum Theory

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What does it feel like to be both alive and dead?

That question irked and inspired Hungarian-American physicist Eugene Wigner in the 1960s. He was frustrated by the paradoxes arising from the vagaries of quantum mechanics—the theory governing the microscopic realm that suggests, among many other counterintuitive things, that until a quantum system is observed, it does not necessarily have definite properties. Take his fellow physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment in which a cat is trapped in a box with poison that will be released if a radioactive atom decays. Radioactivity is a quantum process, so before the box is opened, the story goes, the atom has both decayed and not decayed, leaving the unfortunate cat in limbo—a so-called superposition between life and death. But does the cat experience being in superposition?

Wigner sharpened the paradox by imagining a (human) friend of his shut in a lab, measuring a quantum system. He argued it was absurd to say his friend exists in a superposition of having seen and not seen a decay unless and until Wigner opens the lab door. “The ‘Wigner’s friend’ thought experiment shows that things can become very weird if the observer is also observed,” says Nora Tischler, a quantum physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

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This Twist on Schrödinger's Cat Paradox Has Major Implications for Quantum TheoryCredit: Getty Images

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/this-twist-on-schroedingers-cat-paradox-has-major-implications-for-quantum-theory/

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