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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Schrödinger's Birth Certificate

SchrodingerscatImage via Wikipedia

⇦ Got birth certificate?

Related source » Schrödinger's cat
[This related source is recommended in its entirety.]

Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The thought experiment presents a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event.”
— Wikipedia, modified 22 April 2011 (

Once upon a time, in the 1930s, the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his eponymous equation of quantum mechanics. He needed a passport to attend the Nobel-Prize Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

When he applied for his passport, he was informed that his birth certificate was required as a prerequisite for the documentation process, but, as he explained to the authorities, he could not proffer it because it could cause his cat's demise. The passport authorities were dumbfounded, but intrigued, so they asked him to explain.

Schrödinger's famous response went as follows [roughly translated from the Austrian original]:
“For safe-keeping, I placed my birth certificate in a compartment of the sealed box, shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence, where I have placed my beloved cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. So I am loath to open the box, thereby risking the life of my cat, Hermann.”
The authorities didn't know if Erwin was full of it or the most brilliant man in the solar system, because none of them understood quantum mechanics, which is arguably more counter-intuitive than Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

After a hurried consultation with the Passport Gruppenführer, Schrödinger was granted his passport on his own recognizance (and a hefty bribe to be paid from his Nobel windfall).

Subsequently, upon his return from Stockholm there was a great hue and cry about the underhanded manner in which the "passport issue" was handled. Many conspiracy theories were floated about his cat. People simply wouldn't buy that business about quantum weirdness. Something was rotten in Austria, fer shur. The people on both sides of the issue debated ad nauseam why Schrödinger wouldn't simply show his birth certificate and settle the issue.

Well, boys and girls, now it can finally be revealed. Whereas Schrödinger could have easily proven that he had a bona fide birth certificate, no one could prove that he didn't have one, because, as everyone already knows from various crime dramas on TV, you simply can't prove a negative. The only thing that was common to all the theories and counter-theories was the underlying assumption that Slick Erwin had some reason for not wanting his birth certificate to see the light of day.

Now, after exhaustive research and analysis, I have concluded that the only logical explanation, one that easily explains any and all questions about this vexing controversy is: the premise itself is false. Regardless of the life or death of Hermann the Cat, there never was a birth certificate.

Post 1,616 Schrödinger's Birth Certificate

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