Quantum Mechanics for Beginners

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What's with this Quantum Mechanics thing?1

When you don’t observe something, it isn’t really there. This is a complicated concept, and it doesn’t help that the researcher hasn’t got the faintest idea what she’s talking about. But she will try.

Why isn’t the thing there when it isn’t being observed? Well, it’s something to do with something along the lines of the thing’s particles deciding to pop out for a drink or two, and then coming back in time to be looked at.

It’s simple really. There’s a nice thought experiment that apparently explains this theory. It’s called Schrödinger’s Cat. Now, mentioning that phrase divides the human race into three groups. They are:

  1. Those who actually know how it works and start to talk about it in great detail, much to the bewilderment of all those in the vicinity.
  2. Those who know of it but are nowhere near experts.
  3. Those who give you a Look and say, 'Shredding a cat?'

The experiment

For the benefit of the third category, it goes something like this: take one cat, one box, and one dangerous thing which might kill the cat and might not. DO NOT SHRED THE CAT. Put the cat and the dangerous thing in the box together and close the box, so you can’t observe the cat. This is important. At this point, the thing which might kill the cat might kill the cat. While no one is observing it, it is both alive and dead at the same time, probably because it is as confused as we are.


Do not try this at home. It is a thought experiment, i.e. not a real one, designed to take place inside your head. Keep animal rights in mind if you ever consider actually doing this. However, you can do it in your head as many times as you wish, since as of yet there is no such thing as thought experiment rights.

No imaginary cats were harmed in the making of this article.

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1If you want a serious answer to this question, look elsewhere.

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