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A Cat in a Box! Answered

Sorry, no hilarious picture - but a thought exercise!

Imagine a steel box (to shield the contents from the universe) that contains a cat. Inside this box is a device that contains a gas which may, or may not, cause instant death to the cat. One hour after the device is released in the steel box (with cat) - what is the state (assume only two states - alive or dead) of the cat?

Mind you, you have no method to measure the results of the possibly poisonous device - after all, measure the result and you change it! I imagine there are a few of you that have read about this very scenario in an academic setting :)


Dead, the cat suffocates.

Quantum cats have no need to breath LOL

Hahahahaha. Best answer so far. No, wait I just read Kiteman's. 2nd best!

That sounds like school, but me and my friends are still alive, LOL!


10 years ago

Dang it all! I had made a big deal about not reading the answer that someone posted so that I would have to think it through myself. Then I scroll down and see quantum all over the page. That totally gave it away! I think I figured it out though.

If this cat is wearing a hat, he will always be alright in the end.....

You missed out the most fundamental part of the experiment - the quantum event! Also, the gas will kill the cat if triggered by the quantum event, and the probability of this happening is 50%.


Pat. Pending

Poo, now everyone will just read that instead of thinking through it :p

they may start to read it, but not everyone will finish reading it LOL

Not the "very" setting, but one quite similar to it. There are two schools of thought. Considering what life is, and what a cat is, the cat is of undetermined condition or state. This does not mean he/she is not either dead or alive, it simply means it is impossible to determine the state of the cat given the information one has. This, of course, immediately changes, as soon as one views the cat by opening the box. so one would claim that the "state" of the cat changed upon viewing it. However, this is not so with Schrodinger's cat either. The only thing that changes is that information unavailable before is now available. This is not the case in many quantum scenarios. In some cases, because of the odd way the "odds" cancel one another, one can actually alter the condition or the state of the matter involved by simply viewing it. This is partly due to the minute size of quantum particles, and partly due to the condition they are in (nearly unmoving, or another way to state it, at nearly absolute zero temperature. There have been many advances in the methods of viewing/detecting quantum conditions however, which is one of the reasons that we may soon have a "quantum tunneling transistor" able to pass only one electron at a time. A couple of good reads on the subject are Schrodinger's Box or Hacking Matter.

Here were to two points I had trouble with:

#1: Well, from my perspective

Granted, but not from any perspective I have read up on....so on to #2...

#2: ...observables

while it is nearly impossible to "observe" quantum physics in any normal sense, it "is" about probabilities, just not in the normal sense, if that makes any sense ;-)

I am still waiting until the price of S.E.T.s come down to a reasonable level. Quantum Dots are sooooo expensive for their size..... ;-)

There is only one answer... The cat's dead! Why? Well if the gas didn't kill it, surely being in a box sealed from the universe for an hour would have suffocated it! It's dead!

I dated a woman who got a tattoo about this very thought exercise.

There is a third, more likely state for the cat, and that is stark staring furious.