Erwin Schrodinger won the Nobel prize for physics in 1933 for his eponymous wave equation, however, to the vast majority of the general public he is best known for his cat. This latter honour (though not, to the best of my knowledge, the former) he shares with Postman Pat and Mrs Slocombe. Schrodinger’s cat was not real, but was part of a thought experiment. This experiment was designed to illustrate an implication of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory that a cat placed in a box (along with a radioactive isotope, a geiger counter and a vial of poison gas) could be both alive and dead at the same time. This does not mean the cat is undead – quantum theory does not provide a shortcut to zombies – but rather is in a superposition of states. When the box is opened the cat is found to be either dead or alive – it does not emerge seeking fresh blood or human brains (well, no more so than any other cat).
One of the biggest news stories of 2010 was a woman placing a cat into a wheelie bin. It is unclear whether this was an attempt to translate Schrodinger’s thought experiment into a practical – but when the wave function collapsed (i.e. the bin was opened) the cat was alive.
Last night, the flagship (or at the very least, heavy cruiser) 6 o’clock news on BBC Radio 4 devoted nearly 10% of its running length to a story about a lost cat. Apparently, after losing his moggie, a man nailed “lost” posters in his neighbourhood resulting in the threat of a fine from his council for flyposting and arboreal cruelty. As I’m sure we’d all agree, this story would be a great way for his local paper to fill a few column inches, however, I struggle to undertand its prominence in the national news. On Radio 4! Had so little else happened in the world? Perhaps I should be grateful to this man, or the fact that I had finally pruned my vine would have been national news.
I think the lessons are clear, if you want to be remembered and reach national prominence then you need to place one (or more) of our feline friends in peril. Call it cat-astrophe theory if you will. So, to boost the profile of this blog I have decided to re-instate the ancient sport of cat-swinging – I have the room and it’s time I used it. My dream of Z-list celebrity can only be days away!