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Old 06-22-2008, 10:03 AM #1
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Default Not laser related, but a great thinking exercise

This is one of my favorite physics 'thinking problems'. Check it out and discuss!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat


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Old 06-22-2008, 05:44 PM #2
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

I was gonna post something about Schrodinger's cat because i wanted to relate it to Faraday's box.



anyway
my question here, so i dont make a new thread


Does anybody know something similar to Schrodinger's Cat or Faraday's Box?
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:02 PM #3
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

does the fridge light go out when you close the door? does it even exist?

NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW!
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:12 PM #4
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Well, MY point when we discussed this in physics was such : it is ridiculous to assume the cat is both alive and dead at the same time, as if we X-rayed the box, we would see if the cat was alive or dead WITHOUT opening the box. I was asked to leave the classroom.....
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:16 PM #5
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

If you X-rayed the box you'd give the cat inside cancer and he'd be dead
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:27 PM #6
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Quote:
Originally Posted by SenKat_Stonetek
Well, MY point when we discussed this in physics was such : it is ridiculous to assume the cat is both alive and dead at the same time, as if we X-rayed the box, we would see if the cat was alive or dead WITHOUT opening the box. I was asked to leave the classroom.....
well, you can't x-ray the box... as soon as you observed the cat heisenburg's uncertainty principle would kick in, the quantum wave function would collapse, and the cat would become either alive or dead... the whole point is that by being unable to observe it, it exists simultaneously in both states. In a way, Schrödinger wrote up this experiment to show the silliness of quantum mechanics... It's illustrating what happens on the microscopic quantum scale using macroscopic objects we're familiar with.

Another interesting wikipedia read on this line of thinking is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisenb...inty_principle
it goes on about how you cannot observe something without affecting its outcome.. makes you think...
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:42 PM #7
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

I dont know why, maybe i still lack physics knowledge, but i NEVER got to understand the uncertainty principle. I know what it states, but i just cant get it technically..
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Old 06-23-2008, 03:12 AM #8
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

How does my observing a tree affect its outcome?

I'm not trying to prove anybody wrong here, I just want it explained lol.

And as for the cat in the box, I see the cat as being only dead or alive. Its not that the physics are existing simultaneously, its that we, as human beings with limited knowledge, cannot see into the box to know. The cat is alive OR dead, and we just don't know which one. Although this did really make me think...
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Old 06-23-2008, 03:46 AM #9
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Well, it all has to do with quantum mechanics, which basically says that once things are small enough we have no way of actually measuring them and the best we can hope to do is estimate the probability of something being in a certain place at a certain time... so until something is observed it exists simultaneously in all the places it could possibly be.
Since the observer cannot be removed from the equation they are observing, their observation changes the probabilities such that the more certain they are that an electron is in a certain place, the less likely it is to be there.

Quantum mechanics is only really applicable on enormously tiny scales, and doesn't really mean a whole lot in real life.

Note: I have never actually studied quantum mechanics, so feel free to correct me or elaborate, this is just my understanding of it.
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Old 06-23-2008, 03:54 AM #10
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

One of my favorite cartoons is Futurama. In one episode the professor and the crew are at the race track betting on the horses. At the finale, two horses cross the finish line together, so close in fact it's too close to call. The announcer calls over the loudspeaker that the winner was Lasty in a quantum finish. The professor screams out, "No fair, you changed the outcome by measuring it!" I think the cartoon was too cerebral for average Joe Citizen.

Anyway, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is just freakin cool. If you are measuring a particle for example there is no way you can know the momentum and the position at the same time. If you measure the position you have essentially snapshotted an instantaneous moment in time. By taking that snapshot you destroy any information about it's motion. Likewise by measuring momentum you must have a timescale. By having a timescale to measure the momentum you cannot know where the particle is in that time period.

An example is electron motion around an atom. We have been raised with the image of electrons in orbits around the nucleus like the planets around the sun when in fact electron motion is a probability equation that determines the probability of an electron being in a given location at a given time. What happens is that an electron cloud develops with an electron appearing here then there with no defined orbit only the probability of it being here or there.

It's freaky. It also drove Einstein nuts. He was a right angle man, meaning everything had an exact solution whereas quantum physics included probability and chance. He did come to accept it later in his life but his famous statement, "God does not play dice." is often used to define the man. Hawking later played on this by stating, "God not only plays dice, but sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen."

Of course we do not see this on a macro scale even though it is happening. Someone mentioned the collapse of the wave function on an observation which is what happens to quantum physics when applied to the macro world. Waves play a huge role in quantum mechanics but we cannot detect waves from a tree or a person. They are there however but the wavelength is so short and the quantum effects so small that it is lost on the macro world.

MODIFY:

Alright I calculated a demonstration to show the differences in wavelength. Took me a second to turn my equations into images but here they are.

The de Broglie equation can be used to calculate the wavelength of an object in motion.



I've calculated an electron (mass 9.11E-31kg moving at 1E7 m/s) and a sphere (mass .10kg moving at 35 m/s)

ELECTRON


SPHERE


As you can see there are orders of magnitude difference in the wavelength of a quantum effected particle and a macro object. With such a short wavelength what we notice in the macro world is the particle nature of matter.
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Old 06-23-2008, 03:57 AM #11
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Gotta agree, Futurama was an awesome show. Shame it got cancelled so early - the new Futurama movie they tried was... not impressive at all
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:04 AM #12
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

oooh FC explained it pretty well! I get now how that tree example does not apply
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Old 06-23-2008, 04:10 AM #13
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

It's actually very difficult to explain quantum mechanics in layman's terms as it is inherently mathematical in nature because there is nothing tangible about it. You cannot touch it or relate it to the macro world which, of course, we are all familiar with. Every macro analogy breaks down at some point forcing anyone describing it to have to alter course by stating something like, "Well it works like this except when you measure this then you have to think this way but keep in mind the original analogy because once the measurement is made it's back to this."
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:52 AM #14
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrothyChimp
I think the cartoon was too cerebral for average Joe Citizen.
I agree 100%

I loved that cartoon so much :'(
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:57 AM #15
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abray
The cat is alive OR dead, and we just don't know which one. Although this did really make me think...
Of course we know it is either or, but until we observe the outcome, physics says its both.

And as far as an x-ray goes, that would be observing the outcome so it would no longer be both 8-)

Heres another cat physics one:

If a piece of toast always lands buttered side down when you drop it and a cat always lands on it's feet, what happens if you strap a piece of toast -- buttered side up -- onto a cats back? ;D
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Old 06-23-2008, 06:04 AM #16
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Default Re: Not laser related, but a great thinking exerci

Well the mythbusters have empirically demonstrated that buttered toast landing is truely a random event with the probability of toast landing buttered side down is 50%. As such, strapping toast to a cat will not effect the ability of the cat to land on its feet.

I think we must look at the syllogism:

Some toast lands buttered side down
All cats always land on their feet

Therefore cats with toast strapped to their backs always land on their feet
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