On Shroedinger’s Cats

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Short stories.

(But Then, Who Meowed?)

But Then, Who Meowed?
"By the way, Shroedinger, what did you do to your cat?" asked Plank, "I don’t remember seeing it lately".
"Right! The cat!"
Shroedinger rushed to the cabinet, opened the curtain and took out a large black box.
"Forgot to show you! Behold, a macroscopical object in an indefinite state".
Waving the box gently, he sailed through the room and put the container on the desk. A nasty smell spread around. Einstein covered his nose.
"Yuck, just what’s inside…", cringed Plank, "Smells like a carrion".
"It’s my cat", declared Shroedinger proudly.
"Have you killed it?!"
"That’s unknown!"
Einstein and Plank exchanged looks. Shroedinger continued without paying attention:
"Inside I put my cat and placed a flask of poisonous gas controlled by a quantum indefinite event. The odds are 50/50, either the flask got broken and the cat is dead or it’s still pretty much alive".
Physicist affectinately shook the box. Bad smell spread through the room further and further.
"Oh you my quantum indefinite cat", complimented Shroedinger happily.
"You animal killer", said Einstein.
"Just why is that?"
"The cat is dead. Look at this smell!"
Shroedinger smiled cunningly.
"You think it’s dead?" he asked, "Kitty-kitty, come on…"
"Mew!", answered the box. Plank and Einstein shuddered. Einstein made the sign of a cross.
"No way!" he exclaimed, "The cat is alive. What is it then that smells so bad?"
But Plank bent over the box and sniffed:
"There’s something dead inside, that’s for sure".
"But something meows!"
Shroedinger smiled with content, sitting in his chair at ease.

"This will not do", said Einstein suddenly, "I’m scared by this indefiniteness! Let’s open the box and check".
"Wait!" Shroedinger jumped on his feet, "Don’t, or you’ll break everything. Once you open the box our quantum system will become entangled with that of the cat, and the cat will collapse into one of two definite states!"
"Can you repeat that in German?", inquired Einstein sarcastically, "So that even fools like us can follow".
"The point is, it’ll become either truly alive or dead. What if the cat dies?! I won’t be able to cope with that loss…"
"Then you shouldn’t have used the cat in your experiments in the first place", said Plank grimly. He took a peek inside the box and his face lit with surprise.
"What is it?", asked Einstein excitedly. Plank turned to two other physicists.

"The cat is alive", he answered.
"The cat is dead", he answered.
"No way!", exclaimed Shroedinger. Einstein scratched his nose in confusion.
"But then, what was that smell?" he asked.
"But then, who made that meow?" he asked
"Apparently his twin from a parallel world", shrugged Plank, "At least we have no doubts regarding the fate of the cat now. For us it’s in a determinate state".
"For us?", Einstein stared at the black box with curiousity, "That’s interesting… What if someone else is watching us too? What if our quantum system is not the maximal one? What if for someone somewhere we still exist, like that cat, in two states?"
"Drop it", hand-waved it Plank, "This hypothesis makes no difference to us".
"Well if you say so…", shrugged Einstein.
And they proceeded to pet the Shroedinger’s cat that was so miraculously saved.
And they proceeded to console their friend Shroedinger who just lost his beloved cat.

Another one:

(Thought Experiment)

Thought Experiment
"Yuck, Shroedinger’s basement sure is suffocating", muttered Einstein sittin in the dark, leaning against the door, "I simply can’t stand this."
World’s science superstar hit the steel surface behind his back with his elbow irritatedly. The door did not budge.
"Why had it have to get shut at the worst possible moment!", cursed the physicist for the hundredth time, "Where’s that Shroedinger’s when you need him? And why the hell it’s so dark down here?"
Extending his hand, he searched over the wall:
"Do they have a light switch or something?!"
He pressed the switch but the lights did not go on. Instead there was a hiss as if some gas was being released into the air.
"What’s this?", asked the Einstein nervously, but of course there was no answer, "I hope I haven’t broken anything. Erwin will kill me!"
Hissing grew louder. Scientist began sweating.
"What if it’s toxic gas?", he whispered with fear, "For some experiment or something? I’m an idiot for trying…"
Something fell down heavily from the stairs into the depths of the basement and clawed there against the cement floor. Einstein shivered and shrunk back into the door, staring into the darkness trying to make anything out of it.
"Who’s there?!", he shouted, "Answer me!"
No one answered. Hissing stopped and the room was completely silent. The physicists’s heart was pounding.
"I repeat, who’s there?!" – he shouted but there was no reply. Mustering his strength, Einstein crawled down the stairs. One step, another…
Suddenly he felt something soft under his hand. Sweat formed on the professor of physics’ forehead. He studied his finding growing more and more uneasy; in the darkness before him there sat a man. The man was not showing any signs of life.
"Dead, clearly dead", muttered Einstein, wiping a sweat with a sleeve, "My God, who’s that? Why did he die? And he’s still warm… which means he sat besides me? God, I hope this is not Erwin?!"
Searching with his hand, physicist located the face of the deceased and traced his facial features with his fingers.
"Cheekbones, forehead… no, that’s not Erwin, his face is different… Brows… moustache… wait!"
Einstein froze, shocked.
"That’s my moustache!"
Once more he checked the hair on the face of the deceased then on his own one.
"My moustache. And my cheekbones. What about clothing?" – he extended his hand to the clothing, – "Is it… the clothing is mine too! How’s this even… Wait! I know. Pockets. I had a pencil stump in my pocket. And this man…"
This man also had a pencil stump in his pocket. Einstein turned pale and backed away from the corpse.
"F-foolish joke", he muttered, "How could Erwin know about the pencil? And that stupid hissing. I’ll get him for that, mark my word…"
"Get whom for what?" – came the voice from over the door. Physicist sighed with relief.
"Erwin!" he shouted, "God, where have you been? Open the door now!"
"Sure, sure, I’m looking for the keys"
"What is this nastiness you have in here?"
"What nastiness?" – asked Shroedinger mutedly, rattling with keys.
"All these hissing buttons of yours!"
The rattling stopped.
"Hissing buttons?" asked Shroedinger suspiciously.
"Left wall from the door."
"You pressed it?!"
"I did…" – replied Einstein cautiously, "I shouldn’t have?"
"And you’re alive?!"
Horrified, the scientist stared at the darknes where the door supposedly was:
"I shouldn’t be?!"
There was a stiff silence behind the door. Finally, Shroedinger replied:
"You see, this was the button to begin the trial. Remember I told you about the experiment with the cat?"
Einstein nodded although no one could see his nod.
"I made a working prototype in my basement. Pressing the button releases a poisonous gas… or doesn’t release it. Meaning it haven’t worked?"
"Thanks god, no!" – happily confirmed Einstein, "I’m alive and well. But there were some scary moments until you came. Oh, by the way you have some dead man here in the…"
He stopped half-word and looked backwards with fright.
"What?" – asked Shroedinger.
"You have some dead man here in the basement which looks suspiciously like me" – finished Einstein plaintively – "That’s not me, right?"
"Well, well…" – came a nonplussed reply from behind the door.
"I mean, I can’t really… die and be alive at the same time like that cat, right? That was a thought experiment."
"Well, well…" – repeated Shroedinger.
"Hey! Erwin! Stop scaring me. That’s a doll, right?"
Shroedinger stood silent. The basement was getting colder and colder. Einstein touched the door, stroke it’s ice cold steel surface – it was certainly real, just as the world around him. Real like the still warm body down the stairs.
"Then I don’t know what to do" – in a hopeless voice said Shroedinger – "I cannot release you. If I open the door, you’ll collapse into a determined state and it will be over."
"What will be over?"
"You will die", – said Shroedinger – "Or you will not. Either you or your corpse will remain, and it’s impossible to guess which it is."
"But I can’t just stay here for all eternity!" – exclaimed Einstein, – "I’ll die without food anyway."
"Right you are," – mubmled the door – "Guess there’s no choice. Well then, prepare yourself."
"Prepare like how?"
"Focus your mind, pray. I don’t know! I’m opening the door"
The key scraped in the lock. Tightly closing his eyes, Einstein said to himself: "I’m real. I’m real. This is just a stupid joke. I really exist. That was a purely thought experiment."

The door opened. Blindingly bright light poored into the basement.
"Thanks god all is good", proclaimed Shroedinger in an unusually loud voice, stepping two steps down and extending his hand to help his friend stand up, – "No corpse of course? No matter, I’ll take you word that it was here."
Einstein kept silent, as if offended. The hand remained unaccepted. Shroedinger pushed the physicist in the shoulder:
"Come on, get up already, will you…"
It was that moment when he felt a faint unpleasant aroma in the air and noted how readily the body gives in under pressure.

Obviously these stories are physically incorrect. Moreover, Shroedinger thought up his cat as a way to ridicule quantum theory, not support it in the first place. Although as it often happens, ridiculing a physical theory with the common sense didn’t fly; physical theories do not really hold the common sense sacred. But the unusual thought experiment got remembered.

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