Shrödinger’s Dog

During dinner with his wife, Professor Schrödinger is very excited. He’s come up with a new way to poke fun at his colleagues.

Annemarie can see he has something to say, and he’s dying to say it. “So what is it this time?” she asks him, keen to get this over with quickly.

Schrödinger is delighted to be given the opportunity, puts down his glass of wine, and leans forward across the table.

“Well. Here’s the thing. Imagine an opaque box with a dog in it. The dog’s life depends on a quantum event of the sort this lot claim can’t be established until someone takes a look at it.”

“Oh dear. I hope it’s not a Yorkshire Terrier.”

“Don’t worry — it needn’t be. The point is, these idiots have talked themselves into a corner where the quantum events they’re talking about don’t just either happen or not happen, they exist in both states — happened and not happened — until someone checks, at which point they chalk ’em up as one or the other. ”

There is a silence while Annemarie pokes a Brussels sprout around the edge of her plate.

“Is that it, Erwin?”

“No, the important bit is the dog. If we make the dog’s life dependent on these jokers’ riddle then until you check on your dog, it, too, would be both alive and dead.”

He smiles at his wife, knife and fork akimbo, eyes wide, as if waiting for some sign that the penny has dropped.

Eventually she says, “Alive, and dead, Erwin?”

“Exactly. It follows from the claims they’re making, you see?”

“Hmm. Better for the Yorky if they didn’t take a look then, is that what you mean?”

“Well that’s true too. At least, for those buffoons’ Yorkies it would be.”

Annemarie reaches for the bottle of wine. “Not much point in having a dog if you daren’t look at it. And what would be its chances, dear? 50-50 do you think?”

“You might imagine.  But then there may be a few further complications there.”

“More wine Erwin? It’s German, but the last glass was good enough so I’m assuming this one will be. Is that foolish of me?”

“Some would say so.”

“Those same who have dogs in boxes, and wines in cellars. Either of which may turn out to be spoiled?”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, my dear.”

They finish their dinner in silence, and as she gets up from the table to take their empty plates into the kitchen, Annemarie says:

“Dogs are too predictable. You should make it a cat.”