|image copyright and by kindest permission of ele willoughby, minouette.etsy.com|
Is Schrödinger's cat in the box, or not? It depends on when you look at this linocut! This colour-changing thermochromic block print shows the famous thought-experiment of renowned quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger (who would never hurt a real cat!). Both the cat in blue and the poison in pink will disappear when the print is exposed to heat.
In struggling to fully explain the strangeness of the quantum world, which can only be described in terms of probabilities and wave functions, Schrödinger . . . imagined a cat in a steel box with a vial of poison which might be opened if, and only if, a radioactive decay occurs. In one half-life of the radioactive material, there is a 50:50 chance that the material has decayed or not. So, if the box is closed, and we cannot see within, we can only describe the state of the cat in terms of probabilistic wave functions. After one half-life, we would be forced to describe the contents of the box as the sum of the half likelihood of a live cat and the half likelihood of a dead cat. It is as if, to the outside world, there exists both a live and dead cat.... until, one opens the box and looks.
I have never run across such a memorable way of showing this concept! Ele continues:"I think the intersection of art and science is fascinating and a creative inspiration. My subject matter includes a lot of natural history (flora and fauna, some of which I've had the pleasure of observing at sea), scientists and the history of science, and some myths and legends (which served, once upon a time, to explain the world around us, as a sort of proto-science). I think of my work as a Cabinet of Curiosity. It's filled with specimens from natural history (with the odd harpy or unicorn thrown in for good measure)."