I find publishing the story Feline Blue to be somewhat frightening to me, not so much because I dare to come up with a solution to a problem that some of the best minds of our time have tried to tackle, but that I came up with a solution that is so freaking simple and obvious that there HAS to be something wrong with it. I dislike putting something out into the world that makes me look like an idiot unless I deliberately CHOOSE to look like an idiot. Quantum theory is loaded with paradoxes that people love to talk about. Who am I, a librarian, to come along and say that the paradoxes don’t exist because the zero button on their calculator is sticking?
Still, to me, the logic behind my argument is inescapable. It’s the simple concept expressed in computer science (in which I have my undergraduate degree) as GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.
In this case, the fundamental supposition behind Schrödinger’s cat simply hasn’t been explored. It really isn’t possible to build a proper box to put the cat in.
From what I’ve been able to find, Schrödinger never referred to the box that he wanted to put the cat in as a “black box,” as I refer to it in the story. According to Wikipedia, a black box is a technical term for a device, system or object when it is viewed in terms of its input, output and transfer characteristics without any knowledge required of its internal workings. Looking at it from this perspective, Schrödinger’s box isn’t a true black box, as we know exactly how it works. It’s just the result of the internal workings that is kept from our view. I still think the basic idea behind the black box is sufficient to get my point across.
And my point ultimately boils down to Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect. More specifically, it has to do with the idea that virtually everything in the universe is in some way connected to or linked to virtually everything else in some way.
The Butterfly Effect basically says that dynamic systems (something I think our universe as a whole could be described as) are very sensitive to a changes in the initial conditions. Thus, the tiny puff of breeze caused by the batting of a butterfly’s wings can cause a change in the dynamic system of weather in such a way as to cause hurricanes in areas of the world that are prone to them. For Schrödinger’s cat, I take the Butterfly Effect to its most extreme, reasonably assuming that a cat being either dead or alive would have a profound effect on initial conditions, and that certainly no simple box could be manifested to prevent the state of the cat from affecting the world around it.
The cat’s condition could certainly be derived from x-rays or infrared on a simple box. More importantly, the cat possesses a gravitational field, and, while this gravitational field is incredibly minute, it is still an initial condition that is going to affect the position of molecules outside of the box. There is no known way to block a gravitational field. Thus, there is no known way to keep the cat’s state from affecting the world around it in some way. And, so long as the cat’s state is affecting the world around it in some way, then its state could, in theory, be deduced without having to open the box. My contention is that so long as the cat can not be completely cut off from the rest of the universe, that it cannot be in a state of quantum indeterminacy. The universe as a whole (minus the cat) could only be as it is BECAUSE of the cat and because of the cat’s state.
Okay, if we accept that last sentence, MUST we accept that the cat can’t still be in a dead/alive state? After all, we can’t detect that quadrillionth of a centimeter fluctuations in the air molecules around the box because of the cat’s gravitational field. We can’t see gravity waves. We, as sense limited humans, have no way of detecting if we’ve just murdered a cat for no really good reason.
Here we have to look at our definition of the word, “observer.” In quantum physics, the lay person traditionally thinks of observer as some dude or dudette looking at the cat. In reality, no such definition is clarified. (See this article.) I define observer, as I said in the story, as an affectee, that is, ANYTHING that is affected by the cat’s state. To me, this makes the most sense, as the human mind is only a small part of universe of other things affected by the cat’s state. I see no particular reason why a cognizant mind is necessary to bring the cat out of its undetermined state. This is debatable, however, as it is only my definition. My definition, however, leads to a rational conclusion, whereas competing definitions lead to paradoxes. You make the choice.
So, since this is my article, and since I dislike paradoxes in my physics, let’s take a further look at the concept of affectee.
Obviously, a cat is not the only thing that affects the rest of the universe (although he might like to think so). By my previous arguments, anything large enough to possess a gravitational field, that is, possessing mass, does so as well.
So, what DOESN’T necessarily affect the rest of the universe? Well, only things which possess no mass. In other words, particles small enough only to exist on the quantum scale.
What can we say about a massless particles which are absolutely not affecting anything else in the universe?
Well, we can say that they must exist, and we can say this because every time we’ve bashed particle A into particle B, we’ve always gotten particles C and Not C before. So we know that these particles are out there somewhere.
AND, if by using a clever trap we know that exactly one of the particles must be in our pickle jar, we know that we have trapped is either particle C or Not C.
But we don’t know anything else.
The particle is affecting NOTHING in the universe. From the universe’s perspective, it might as well not exist. In fact, if we assume that the universe doesn’t really give a shit, we can say that, from the universe’s perspective, the particle is not even part of the universe.
The ONLY way the particle has been defined is mathematically. And how, mathematically, would one define a particle that effectively is not even part of the universe but MUST be C or Not C.
Well, pure mathematics is great at determining probabilities, but I’m not sure that it is really equipped for defining the undefinable. Given a particle that is both not part of the universe and could only be one of two things, I can easily imagine mathematics coming out and saying that the particle is both at once.
A computer programmer or logician wouldn’t define it that way, but mathematics doesn’t use the same symbol sets. And particle physics is definitely a favorite area for mathematicians.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the paradoxical state of the quantum particle being two things at once is a mathematical illusion. I know that this idea has been suggested before, and I know that numerous physicists have said that it is indeed in both states, but I also know that stating that the particle is either C OR Not C (not a paradox) or stating that the particle is both C AND Not C (paradox) makes absolutely no difference as far as the universe is concerned. The universe doesn’t care about the particle until the particle somehow interacts with it and defines itself. Until that happens, I prefer to define the unknown state in a way that doesn’t lead to a paradox, thank you very much.
Voldemort in the story is based on a real cat, whose current state I don’t know because we gave him away, hoping that he would be less of a pain in the ass to people who would pay more attention to him.
The institution of South Indiana State University is entirely fictional. I am of Finnish ancestry, and I used to wear a sweat shirt with the word SISU on it. Sisu is a Finnish word meaning, roughly, gumption, or, as I used to like to describe it, “courage, guts, and a little bit nuts.” People would ask me all the time what sisu stood for, and I would always say South Indiana State University. Call it a rather lame inside joke.
The fact that my wife is dead in the story means nothing. The only reason there is no wife is that she wasn’t necessary for the plot. The real wife is in a definitely alive state, and I love her dearly.