Well, this is a pretty sweet year for solving epic scientific problems.
Not only was the Higgs Boson finally discovered for realsies, but the classic thought experiment Schodinger’s Cat, which postulated the creation of an undead zombie cat as a result of the magic of quantum objects, has also bitten the dust as of yesterday. That’s right, the onslaught of modern science has slain two long-hold mysteries of the scientific realm.
As the article explains,
Schrödinger’s cat, the enduring icon of quantum mechanics, has been defied. By making constant but weak measurements of a quantum system, physicists have managed to probe a delicate quantum state without destroying it – the equivalent of taking a peek at Schrodinger’s metaphorical cat without killing it. The result should make it easier to handle systems such as quantum computers that exploit the exotic properties of the quantum world.
Quantum objects have the bizarre but useful property of being able to exist in multiple states at once, a phenomenon called superposition. Physicist Erwin Schrödinger illustrated the strange implications of superposition by imagining a cat in a box whose fate depends on a radioactive atom. Because the atom’s decay is governed by quantum mechanics – and so only takes a definite value when it is measured – the cat is, somehow, both dead and alive until the box is opened.
This is practically Dr-Strange-level stuff right here. We truly live in interesting times.