I Want This T-Shirt


As seen at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival: “Think Geek“.
Twisted up in Schrödinger’s uncertainty thought experiment, this historical kitty has been put through a quantum ringer that nobody should have to experience. After all it’s tough work being both alive and dead simultaneously. Every student of physics knows that Schrödinger’s 1935 paper regarding a hypothetical paradox involving a cat has perplexed and annoyed physics geeks for years. The basic idea; If the outcome of a circumstance is presently unknown and by observing the circumstance you will disrupt it, then it exists in all possible states simultaneously… Simple! At least to quantum physicists with massive craniums. And hey eventually this principle will seem commonplace, but by then our highways will connect galaxies and shirts like this will be so utterly obvious that they’ll likely be dish rags.

Don’t get it? We propose the following thought experiment:

  1. Give your friend enough money to purchase the “Schrödinger’s Cat” shirt (don’t forget the shipping).
  2. Tell your friend to take the money and lock himself in a room with a cigarette lighter.
  3. Let your friend know that once in the room he is to randomly choose either to burn the money, or return in five minutes with the money intact. We emphasize that this must be completely random (aka, impossible for a human to determine but bear with us).
  4. Your friend must then stay in this box for eternity. Hey, that’s how thought experiments work. Hopefully he/she is OK with that.

Since you have no idea whether your friend will destroy the money, you will simultaneously either lose or recover that money. So in a quantum sense, if you extend that logic, you will simultaneously either be able to purchase or not purchase this very t-shirt which enabled you to make the choice in the first place. Isn’t physics fun? Perhaps when it was based on Newton, but now things are getting really hairy. Just wait another 100 years, we haven’t seen anything yet….

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