I have been thinking of the Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox and a new set of problems it presents in understanding how matter behaves in physics. In quantum physics they say that we can never know the state of matter or energy until we observe it. Therefore in a purely isolated coherent quantum system, in “theory”, quantum matter must exist in all states at once until we do. This implies some form of the typical quantum idea of “everything-is-random-until-we-measure-it” argument, which I disagree with. I just do not believe such tangled coherent quantum states imply unmeasurable random potential. Something else must be implied in such a state. Some larger non-quantum universal affect must be influencing such states. But that is not the real reason quantum theories of entanglement and the cat-in-box example feels so incomplete and hollow to me.
Let’s start at the beginning and look at the puzzle from 1935. In the Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox, in its simplest form, there is a cat in a box. Inside the box is poison and a posed hammer that is triggers to smash the poison if an radioactive system decomposes and is detected as such. The supposed atoms have a 50% chance of releasing day a proton and do this subatomic test forms the basis for the experiment.
But an observer doesn’t know if the cat is dead or alive until we “observe” the cat by opening the box at some moment in time. There is a 50% chance of it being alive or dead. Quantum theory says the cat must exist in both forms until we open the box and look at it.
This problem they say helps explain a major aspect of quantum theory, which says an electron’s location or spin state cannot be known until we measure it. But many problem’s remain here.
For starters, doesn’t the act of measuring it also change its state? If so why and how is that influence explained? Does this system assume some isolation of all parts of the experiment from other factors? What is the cat’s viewpoint versus the observers and are they able to exist in conflict, different universes, etc.? Do we assume there are only two states of the car and if energy? What is “state” and how does it relate relative to outside influence, energy, time, and relative observation?
Quantum physics doesn’t even begin to explain any of those questions.
All they say is that the cat in the box exists in a form of “wave” state, being both alive and dead until observed – a zombie undead cat, you might say. Once observed, we then are supposed to know if the cat is alive or dead. We then have to assume at observation it exists in one of the dead or alive states – or rather a collapsed waves state (it being made of both waves before observation) – where on observation we see one state of the cat, as we do one state of a quantum particle like electrons.
The fact quantum physicists have now proven this cat-box-theory correct in terms of explaining how certain isolated atomic states seem to exist in “mixed states” has been shown in many experiments, they claim. The current one involves the observation of the “entanglement” of two atoms or electrons many hundreds of meters apart that have been intentionally tangled together in state, then physically removed in distance. Changing one of the paired electron then has been shown to flip the other atom’s electron in the opposite pattern, showing that their systems or matter are connected in some bizarre dance of energy and time despite distance.
I’m not a physicist so I apologize if I got all this scientific description partly-right.
But in observing this Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox I see so many flaws. The logic feels “convenient” to these isolated explanations of observable Nature, yet incomplete. It is why I’ve always been a huge Einstein fan and less of a theoretical quantum physics believer.
If you look at the Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox for starters, one problem immediately comes to mind…….what does the CAT observe?
If the cat is alive, then surely it is observing itself like the electron as an “always on” state. That then defies the relevant observation of an outside conscious party that knows only the possibility of both on and off, alive and dead, for the cat. The two are in conflict. Therefore, such a cat-state cannot truly objectively exist.
The second realization is the fact that Schrödinger’s Cat, in observing itself in the dead state, unlike the observer, is an impossibility. Being dead the cat would have no observation of itself. This implies a THIRD STATE for this model…..that of the car not being dead or alive but just “not-being”, a null state, or of non-existence – nothingness.
So now we have an observer knowing a cat is a zombie, alive and dead before observation, but to the cat it either knows it’s alive or has no knowledge being dead, this no observation. Nothingness. In other words to the dead cat there IS NO EXPERIMENT. Lol
We know in programming, there are actually 3 states for a known certain types… some value, a null value (nothing), or undefined (i.e. we just don’t know what it is!). This latter you might say is the supposed quantum view of the cat-state. Dividing 1 /0 is undefined in mathematics. That is the state of “not knowing” what the value is. It’s not null, however. It’s something.
This such an “undefined state” is really what quantum entanglement should be expressing, not some dual wave or unknown alive or dead zombie mud of a cat. That idea is rediculous, as is the on or off simultaneous state of these quantum experiments. It’s really “potential” that such states presuppose, not being in two states at once.
But let’s look at the dead cat again from its perspective. A dead cat is the same as saying that to its observation it never existed. Being dead to the cat is yet another view that isn’t explained here. It is suggesting that possibly matter itself in true isolation doesn’t exist at some point in this experiment. Maybe that is the true state of entanglement in its purest form.
Could we then also observe this quantum state by say opening the box and finding NO CAT at all? What does that imply?
If the cat is dead and cannot observe itself, it possibly doesn’t exist at all, or never has. Therefore we have four states now… a car that is both alive and dead as the quantum state, alive (cat observing itself or being observed), dead (observed by us only, not the cat), and non existence (not observed, no cat seen or ever known to exist by observer or cat). 4 states now exist in this experiment.
That then brings up more questions.
Could there be even more states? If the cat is dead, and therefore cannot observe itself in either state, was it never born? In that case it can (or cannot) be in the following states as well: Never existed, yet to be born, dead long ago having been once alive, alive soon to be dead, always alive, always dead, or reborn again over and over.
Are all these new states now existing in multiple combinations?
You see the conundrum of quantum physics and its incompleteness? In essence Schrödinger was right in 1935….this is a failed logic problem that isn’t convincing, just as Einstein said.
What I propose in this problem is the one constant of it all…that all states, alive and dead, never being and always being, once alive, now dead, once dead now alive again, eternally living and eternally dead, all must exist for it to be viable now. And we cannot fully understand what we are observing or seeing in boxed cats until we consider all the possibilities of those states.
To then observe an unknown system like this there are too many variables, as well. Decoherence is at play….the process of a quantum atom in an experiment not “truly” being isolated to prove observation of measuring truly influences it as the Schrödinger’s Cat Pardox attempts to explain. Until we have a purely coherent, isolated atomic system free of the influence of the rest of the universe, I say nothing is truly entangled, and therefore zombie cats are not proven.
In addition, if we can only say “dualistically” in these thought problems that only two states really exist, then we fail. It’s not state it’s potential that lives in not knowing if the car is dead or alive. So maybe the correct view is all states and yet no states exist. If we say we observe a state, what are we observing but a “relative” view of all possible states based on one view point only that is grossly incomplete. Therefore this experiment is mental masturbation at best. It shows or demonstrates nothing. There are too many other things engaged, like who is observing what, when, and where?
This goes back to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity he so elegantly argued, where what one person observes travelling at say the speed of light changes each observers view of time and views for those not travelling at the speed of light. In other words, relativity has exposed the flaw in Quantum Theory that we are all in fact both trapped in localized subjective views of the universe, like electrons in one state at one moment in time, but also influenced heavily by the atoms and states around us. Thus we are both unable to see the other view of the cat yet also unable to ever witness a cat in a box apart from the rest of the universe. In other words everyone is a subjective observer and can never play God with matter.
What the cat sees of itself could be possibly different from what we observe. They are trapped in the same subjectivity. Therefore, what is any state of anything but a subjective and incomplete observation at best.
A cat can be one of many more states if we expand our thinking. It can be in the NULL state of non existence, for example. Science cannot yet know if an electron, for example, is moving from non existence back into existence when its state is observed. We have seen anti-matter do this I’m told. What would happen if such was the case, where opening the cat box we were to see it empty…an anti-matter cat?
Part of the problem in quantum mechanics and the people that play with thought experiments that border on fantasy is they fail to see their own limitations. I am not a physicist (though I once made the highest grade on my high school physicist exam, and have majored in BioPhyics in Trinity university in Texas, years ago.) But what I learned from science was not that it was questionable or that things were not quantifiable. What I learned was often people of one type of mind often miss the subtleties that other types of brains pick up.
You see this all the time in programming, where one type of programmer completely misses the hidden problems created by another. I have seen this problem over and over and over in very smart people who see and approach problems from completely different angles denying the other side of the equation. They therefore miss solving it, completely because what they conceive is so incomplete and prone to failure. I’ve seen this in brilliant people I’ve worked with in the sciences, professors, computer programmers, and even highly educated members of my own family. They cannot see the forest for the trees due to ego.
When I went into software engineering, I saw quickly this phenomenon. I learned I had two choices in terms of computer programming…I could build things that work or build things that work well. The latter we call “contingency programming” – the idea that good artistic and right-brain programmers design for failures in their code because all such systems come with inherent flaws. You thus see the world as flawed artistry – like panting a painting that is harmonious and organic but perfect in its creative solution.
This stands in contrast to the left brain hacks or “geniuses” that are good at solving computer problems without fully understanding its weaknesses. These are the MENSA level guys that can can’t price tomatos at the store or get a girlfriend but can write software in byte code. That’s who quantum people are.
As you can imagine, I am the right-brain type, and despise all left-brain types as a result. I have seen too many high IQ people be congratulated in the corporate boardrooms for their inventiveness when years later after they have moved on we find their software had failed to solve the real problem it was meant to solve.
My point in this article is that the Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox feels incomplete and terribly flawed. It really doesn’t explain what’s going on at all. And it hardly explains some of the beautiful and amazing discoveries quantum physicists are making today.
There are MANY possible outcomes, and more ways to view the problem, than as a “dualistic result of states”. If we can expand our views and look at it from a relative point of view, we could conceive of the cat in the box as being in millions of states, even states beyond alive or dead or both or all. We could see the cat, like the electron, as not-being, or someday-being, or being then not being millions of times at once, or even not yet being or already was and nevermore. We could also have two observers seeing two different states at two different times or the same time, though that aspect may be disproven now by science.
But what do these “new states” imply?
This is not an attempt to discredit science or trends today. This is more of an attempt by a layman such as myself to dispel the truly flawed view still apparent in quantum minds….the idea that randomness and the observations and views of its mystery in quantum theory is still a very biased assumption, not truly impartial, and poorly used to explain “state” if matter in partially isolated coherent quantum states.
As I mentioned, quantum coherence implies “potential” when isolated…..matter is an unknown, unimpaired pre state not influenced by the rest of the universe. To entangle such isolated matter means the two particles are only influenced by each other apart from the rest of the universe. It makes sense that classical laws of energy explain this not influence of observation of zombie cats.
Besides, God doesn’t play dice, as Einstein once said. It is not a solution to say everything we observe is random but also connected in randomness just because we can’t measure it. Just because we observe or cant fully observe something doesn’t mean we objectively know all the “states of its being”. There is not-being too. And there is our mind’s own flawed observation systems and subjective sense of meaning with time and the movement of energy – the inherit flaws in how our brains interpret it all – that are not being considered.
We will never find a Unified Field Theory in physics until we move beyond the limitations of our brains and our own atoms impacting all these observable systems. They can be explained in ways beyond theory that for classical views.
That is why we can’t pretend to rewrite physics and what we know based on narrowly filtered judgements of energy, time, and states of matter. The dead cat idea just doesn’t work.
We have to accept that such a unified theory that would attempt to encompass the meaning of the universe within a single equation or construct or model will require we stop limiting our views by artificial constructs of our mind and accept that many more states, ideas, and laws exist beyond what happens on just a quantum scale. There are undefined states we cannot measure or may never measure or quantify in physics that impact such observations. Randomness, observation, and state doesn’t lead us there.
We cannot assume the cat is just a dual wave function that must collapse into a single state we have presupposed to exist on observation. We have to accept that we like the cat and electrons will someday not be around, be alive, and not be able to observe the cat or even ourselves. How then do we explain matter from a deadman’s point of view? My point is such models are absurd.
Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox is just the beginning of the exploration of looking again at Einstein’s relative viewpoints and going back and seeing if there is more that we have missed in understanding how very very tiny aspects of matter behave beyond quantum theory alone.
If we could instead create a truly quantum kitty…..one truly isolated from everything as matter apart from the rest of the universe, like a truly coherent quantum state, would it’s observed or non-observed state really matter? We just might find it exists, not in many states at once, nor even as a dead or living kitty on observation. The truth is such a state isn’t a kitty at all. It’s not in an unrealized state either. It’s simply potential to be what it must become once it connects with the rest of the universe…..a universe whose total deterministic potential and energy and laws still has more affect than what happens on a quantum level.
– the Author