At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard about Schrodinger’s cat. Most people could tell you that there is a cat in a box, and not much else. If you’re lucky, they could tell you why and how the cat is in the box. Fewer still could actually tell you what it represents. And it irks me to no end, because it’s like waving a gun around and not firing it.
For non-physicists, I’ll give you a very qualitative explanation of the creation of Schrodinger’s cat as explained to me by professors since high school, college, and graduate school (admittedly you could just go to Wikipedia but THAT AIN’T HOW THIS SHIT FLIES ‘ROUND HERE.):
Quantum mechanics wasn’t always well-accepted as a viable theory. In its development during the early 20th century, young physicists like Heisenberg and Schrodinger were busy trying to prove their salt with a form of physics that, at best, is clever statistics and probability. The gatekeepers to the YES button were the old curmudgeonly physicists that, 30 or so years earlier, were trying to do the same with relativistic physics (I SWEAR there isn’t an ether, honest! We totally broke up with her!). They also did this without much experimental work, so when the quantum folks arrived, you would think that the entirely stable mathematical basis and easier access to proof of principle would be ENOUGH, right? I mean, this is the 30s! The boom of atomic and nuclear exploration is literally on the doorstep, and all these old crusty dudes are like, whoa now, young whippersnapper, I don’t know about this…
You’d be like, seriously?!
After both sides duking it out (in the only way scientists can, being the frequent publishing of incremental catty papers, like a sad rap war), it comes down to the status quo of physics writing up a note on a brick basically saying “Well Quantum Mechanics, I’m not sure the science is all in on this one” and tossing it into the fray. QM is all like, oh HELL NO so Schrodinger basically goes to war slinging direct letters coming up with increasingly creative analogies for different situations, answering every single question that Old Man Relativity has for them with an oversimplified yet incredibly accurate description of a quantum mechanical process or theoretical point.
Finally it comes down to Einstein (did I mention that Einstein was a part of this? That rat bastard, yet again, with his superiority complex…), giving an example about gunpowder, and Schrodinger does what any out of his mind, frustrated physicist does: he comes up with some completely fucked analogy about the possibility of finding a dead cat in a box. Yes, the cat was on purpose, for the purpose of expressing his disdain to Einstein. It’s meant as the ultimate slap in the face to Einstein’s “barrel of gunpowder” example. And it was AMAZING. Einstein did not have a fucking thing to say back. Everyone pronounces QM as king and we all live happily to drop bombs on Japan (sorry Japan!).
So please fucking shut up with the Schrodinger’s cat references, unless the end of your sentence is “and then Einstein promptly sucked it.”