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Intended as a critique of the Copenhagen interpretation (the prevailing orthodoxy in 1935), the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment remains a defining touchstone for modern interpretations of quantum mechanics.Physicists often use the way each interpretation deals with Schrödinger's cat as a way of illustrating and comparing the particular features, strengths, and weaknesses of each interpretation." (More technically, when does the actual quantum state stop being a linear combination of states, each of which resembles different classical states, and instead begin to have a unique classical description?) If the cat survives, it remembers only being alive.Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.
A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): 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 that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid.
But explanations of the EPR experiments that are consistent with standard microscopic quantum mechanics require that macroscopic objects, such as cats and notebooks, do not always have unique classical descriptions.
The thought experiment illustrates this apparent paradox.
Schrödinger's cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead.
a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat.
The thought experiment is also often featured in theoretical discussions of the interpretations of quantum mechanics.