Friday, June 27, 2008

Professor Erwin And The Cat


Professor Erwin had a cat once. Maybe the same cat that jumped into my bedroom. Maybe the same cat in Puchong. Maybe the same cat that got me into all this mess. Who knew these things? Word has it that Professor Erwin tortured the cat by putting it into a box and poisoned it. All that just to prove a point - that before the box is opened, the cat is simultaneously dead and alive! As far as I was concerned, Professor Erwin was really several fries short of a Happy Meal. He's like the Marquis deSade. Only he tortures cats instead of pretty young girls. There should be laws against people like him is what I think. Over beer and pig-knuckles, Professor Erwin explained to me, "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. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts. It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a "blurred model" for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks."

Word has it that someone tried to rescue Professor Erwin's cat once. The gallant man was Smedley Faversham. Some said that he was a time-traveller from the future. Some said that he was a charlatan. Perhaps the cat brought him here, like it did me? Who knew these things? Anyway, he pretended to conduct an interview with Professor Erwin (just like I did). During the interview, Professor Erwin mentioned that he was visiting his friend, Max Planck and entrusted his cat into the care of Smedley Faversham. Smedley was overjoyed. It turned out that the dead-alive cat was hidden away by the shrewd professor and Smedley was entrusted with Mrs. Erwin's cat instead. Silly Smedley tried to run away with the cat but not before Mrs. Erwin returned. To hide from Mrs. Erwin, Smedley and the cat accidentally locked themselves in a cabinet with a Geiger counter, a vial of acid, and a hammer! Turns out that was exactly what Professor Erwin planned all along. In fact, there was no Mrs. Erwin - that was all part of Professor Erwin's ploy. The results of the experiment was never published publicly but it's safe to say that both Smedley and the cat were simultaneously dead and alive in the cabinet!