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January 1986

Schrödinger's Box, the Archives, and You

Author Affiliations

Director and Managing Editor AMA Specialty Journals

Arch Dermatol. 1986;122(1):42. doi:10.1001/archderm.1986.01660130046022

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Schrödinger's conceptual model of probable reality described a closed box containing a cat and a vial filled with a radioactive, poisonous substance. Only if one atom decayed and emitted an electron, the vial would break. The chances that this would happen and the cat would die or that it would not and the cat would continue to live are 50-50. What does this mean? In the everyday world of "common reality" there is no such thing as a half-dead or half-alive cat, irrespective of the presence of an observer. In quantum physics, however, either both probabilities (of a dead cat and of a living cat) contain equal reality (in separate worlds), or neither holds valid reality unless the observer opens the box and "allows" one of them to crystallize into reality. In the quantum world, the cat is neither dead nor alive, but somehow lying in an indeterminate state until

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