There are a few anecdotes in the world of science that help people understand the complex principles behind some of the theories. From Archimedes’ tub to Newton’s apple, and Schrödinger’s cat, simple symbols have embodied complex scientific theories, while also inspiring future generations. This is exactly the case of Schrödinger’s cat, which, after more than 80 years, continues to be a source of inspiration for scientists.
Back in 1935, Erwin Schrödinger was convinced that the behavior of subatomic particles greatly differs from that of large objects. In order to exemplify his theory, the scientists placed a cat in a box next to a vial of poison that could have been triggered by a wide array of factors.
Schrödinger’s point was that there was no way of knowing if the cat was still alive or not. At least, not until somebody opened the box. This is the simplest explanation that the physicist was able to find in order to explain how quantum behavior works.
In the world of physics, the action of determining the results of a potential alteration of events is called collapsing the wave function.
After 81 years since Schrödinger locked the cat and the poison vial in the box, Yale physicists came up with another idea. What if Schrödinger’s principle was combined with the entanglement theory?
Albert Einstein defined entanglement as a “spooky action at a distance.” More explicit, let’s say you have two particles in two different regions of space. The theory of entanglement dictates that an instantaneous change in one of them would automatically create alterations to the other one’s condition.
If you combine the two theories, it would translate into the cat being both dead and alive in not one, but two boxes at the same time.
“It turns out ‘cat’ states are a very effective approach to storing quantum information redundantly, for implementation of quantum error correction. Generating a cat in two boxes is the first step towards logical operation between two quantum bits in an error-correctible manner,” declared the director of the Quantum Institute at Yale, Robert Schoelkopf.
It seems that Schrödinger continues to inspire the future, current generation of scientists while also impacting the way in which we see computers and the computing world.
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