Elliot: Schrödinger’s cat meows reality


Beau Elliot, [email protected]

“NASA: We Didn’t Change Your Zodiac Sign, Astrology Isn’t Real” read the headline in Inverse. (Is “in Inverse” a double inverse? You know what that means: porridge for breakfast and some talk about Schrödinger’s cat. Eeeesh.

Ah, yes, Schrödinger’s cat. Don’t pet her, she bites. The thought experiment goes something like this, though you should really consult a real physicist before trying it out at home. (The experiment, not the thinking.)

According to various sources, you put a cat in a box with some radioactive material (hmm, the NSA is watching you), a Geiger counter, a hammer, and a tube containing cyanide or something equally toxic. Like, say, a Donald Trump comment. If, within an hour, one atom from the radioactive material decays, the Geiger counter senses that and sparks the hammer to smash the tube containing the cyanide or the Trump comment, and the cat dies. The thing is, you don’t know unless you open the box if the cat is alive or dead, so she’s in a super-position, a position favored for some reason (they can’t get to South Beach?) by some subatomic particles, according to the Copenhagen quantum thinkers (think Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, or don’t, if you haven’t had any coffee yet) whom Schrödinger got catty about.

Of course, the presence of the cat in the box, even though it’s merely a thought experiment, would truly infuriate Big PETA, so the cat wouldn’t be allowed in that damn box. She would have to be placed in some string-theory parallel universe, and then, of course, we still wouldn’t know whether the cat died. Or ever existed. But that’s a question best left to deep thinkers, such as the Trumpster. And he denies having ever seen a cat. Much as his nonprofit charity denies ever having seen a cat or used any money illegally. Cat’s got his tongue, apparently. Read my lips: No new tax returns, the Trumpster says.

By the way, don’t try opening that cat’s parallel universe at home, either. I did once, fool that I am, and spent weeks trying to clean up the kitchen afterwards. I think there still might be bits of cat atoms clinging to some of the darker corners, but I don’t go there anymore. (Psst: Don’t tell Big PETA.)

Meanwhile, back at real life, astrology isn’t REAL? That’s going to shock the various stock markets, because what other life forms do they base their prices on? Protozoan replication?

And nobody tell the Trumpster; his whole belief system seems to be based on astrology. You’re a Gemini? You’re fired. Huuuuuge grin. Well, at least he has a sense of humor. About leaving people jobless.

Ah, yes, astrology, turns out, NASA merely employed a new, high-tech gizmo called mathematics to point out that believing in astrology was like breathing in some funny gas.

The Babylonians, who invented the zodiac around 3,000 years ago, decided that the Sun passed 12 constellations in a year, because that was neat and clean. NASA pointed out the Sun passes 13 constellations, so most of our own astrological signs are wrong, off by a month or so. The Earth’s axis tilt has also changed a bit in 3,000 years, so that affects things, too — not to get too deeply into science, which many of the Trumpster’s supporters “deplore.”

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