Things are progressing well with the manuscript preparation and all of the artwork and permissions that I need have been received. And so, it seemed fitting to highlight one of those illustrations here to give you a sneak peak.

Below is an illustration of Schrödinger’s cat—a famous physics thought experiment dreamed up by Erwin Schrödinger to mock the idea that quantum uncertainty at the subatomic level had anything to do with the real world. He wrote:

[To demonstrate how absurd this theory is] one can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if, meanwhile, no atom has decayed. [1]

Schrödinger pointed out that the mathematics of this experiment would claim that the living cat and the dead cat were “mixed or smeared out in equal parts”—that is, until someone looked, the cat would be both dead and alive. He accepted the idea that we could not know what was going on at the subatomic level, but the idea that the quantum superposition of the particle in question translated into the superposition of the cat (simultaneously alive and dead) was absurd to him. He concluded, “There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks,” meaning, our unclear picture does not mean that reality is unclear, only that our ability to capture that reality is.

To illustrate this discussion, Kathleen Kimball has produced this brilliantly creative representation of a cat both alive and dead. Enjoy!

Illustration © 2018 Kathleen Kimball. All rights reserved. Used by permission.



[1] Schrödinger and Trimmer, “The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics.”