Thursday, February 12, 2009

To be or not to be

X wrote:

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A ______ is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the ____): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the ____ still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead ________ (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a "blurred model" for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

The above text is a translation of two paragraphs from a much larger original article, which appeared in the German magazine Naturwissenschaften ("Natural Sciences") in 1935.

All the blanks are the same.. X ?


MaVeRicK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MaVeRicK said...

Oops.. my bad. Didn't know it was the gentleman himslef talking about his fictitious.. purr.. purr :)

Got a li'l too excited and and googled into the details. So had to withdraw my answer.

Skythe said...

Schroedinger and his cat?

vazha said...

Barthez is right...