Schrodinger’s Cat

Written by Abhisek Pattnaik
Pic courtesy : Artstation.com

Areté : (Greek), the act of living up to one’s full potential.

You know looking at my past, what haunts me the most? It’s simply the foregoing of the possibilities of what I could have become. No, don’t get me wrong. I’m neither judging my current state nor carry this notion that the world and its elements needs to be layered to make any sense. Given the support I have received from my family throughout my life, I’m yet to believe in the idea of economic determinism(ie it is economics/money that determines every course of action) like that of Karl Marx. So, I continue to live in my distant ideal world, staying an idealist(someone who envisions a world i.e. ought to be rather than the real one). Hence, the possibilities I have foregone have nothing to do with the social status or power hierarchy or the paychecks that we receive by the end of every month. But rather, the idea of experiencing them in their totality. I can’t simply pull a rickshaw for a day and become a rickshaw puller. Nor can I engage in active politics for a day and call myself a politician. I’ll simply remain myself. A selection of decisions/choices from among the infinite possibilities drawing a narrow path, which has become quite thin now to allow me to accommodate something else into it. And, this makes me think of the ‘many world’ hypothesis.

You must be aware of the thought experiment famous by the name of Schrodinger’s cat. It was given by physicist Erwin Schrodinger as an allegory to explain the complexities of quantum physics.

Imagine there is a sealed box with a cat in it. And there is a radioactive element and a vial containing poisonous gas to accompany it. The system is so designed that if the radioactive element decays within an hour, the hammer falls, breaking the vial and thus, killing the cat. But, the chances of decay of the element within an hour is 50/50. Hence, Schrodinger argues that the cat in the sealed box is simultaneously both dead and alive before the box is opened. According to him, since there is no one inside the box to witness the happenings, the cat exists in all its possibilities i.e. both dead as well as alive. This in a way gave way to the ‘many world’ hypothesis  by Hugh Everett later. According to it, all possible outcomes for any quantum event or decision are physically realized in some “world” or universe.

Okay! This is assuring, to know that infinite copies of me are living simultaneously in parallel worlds as the rest of the possibilities.
Me as a cricketer. Checked.
Me as a pilot. Checked.
Me as an artist. Checked.
Me as a billionaire. Checked.
Hah! But what about this copy of myself, that I’m getting to experience. How can I transgress this limitedness and become the rest of them simultaneously?

Like the Schrodinger’s cat, I derive my status, my identity from others. Don’t I? Certainly it depends on what and how the society perceives me. Hell, I can’t even tell the difference between what’s real and what’s forced in me now. I wonder what if I simply lock myself up in a box as a solution. Like the cat, I’ll be perceived by none. Shouldn’t it liberate me then; helping me to exist simultaneously in all my possibilities from here on; helping me achieve my Arete!

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