One of history’s most influential thought experiments involves a radioactive zombie cat, letters to Albert Einstein, and multiple Nobel Prizes...

It's time for a thread on Schrödinger’s Cat👇👇👇
1) Throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries, Newton’s Laws were the basis of physics.

In the early 20th Century, physicists realized that very tiny things did not obey Newton’s Laws. Image
2) While Newton’s Laws still explained the motion of a ball or an apple, they could not be used to explain the nature of atomic and subatomic (super small) particles.

Thus, the field of quantum physics was born…
3) The foundation of quantum physics arose to explain observations that did not reconcile with Newton’s Laws (ie “Classical Physics”).

In the 1920s, physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg developed the Copenhagen Interpretation to express the meaning of quantum mechanics. Image
4) At the heart of quantum mechanics is a “wave function”, used to describe all possible states a subatomic particle can have. 

According to the Copenhagen Interpretation, particles exist in multiple states- until they interact with other particles and collapse to a single state
5) Some scientists even suggested that quantum particles only collapse to a single state when viewed by a conscious observer.

This claim prompted Erwin Schrödinger, a fellow physicist, to devise the thought experiment (NOT a real experiment) known as Schrödinger’s Cat.
6) Schrödinger developed the hypothetical scenario to illustrate the absurdity of the idea that wave function collapses are driven only by conscious observers.

Erwin Schrödinger first proposed this thought experiment in a letter to his colleague and friend, Albert Einstein. Image
7) In the imaginary experiment, you lock a cat in a steel box with a radioactive atom, a Geiger counter (a device used to detect radiation), a hammer, and a vial of poison.

The radioactive atom has a 50/50 chance of decaying.
8) Radioactive decay activates the Geiger counter, which in turn, triggers the hammer to crush open the vial of poison, killing the cat.

An hour after beginning this experiment, the cat may be alive (if the atom has not decayed), or dead.

This is where it gets crazy… Image
9) According to the observer-driven idea, the cat is both dead AND alive until the box is opened.

The thought experiment has commonly been misconstrued as support for the observer-based hypothesis.

But Schrödinger's original point was that the cat must either be dead OR alive
10) Science has since sided with Schrödinger.

Physicists generally agree that there is nothing special about observers that could influence the state of particles.

This conclusion was reached without harming a single cat!
11) Schrödinger went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1933 to match Einstein’s 1921 Nobel Prize.

The two physicists later had some beef over Grand Unification Theory. (What else would Nobel-winning physicists fall out over?)

But that is a story for another day…
12) If you learned something, you should check out BrainFeed, the internet’s most interesting email that explains everything you should know in 4-minute bites.

Subscribe for free: brainfeed.co

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12 Feb
You’ve heard of the Manhattan Project…

But did you know that it featured secret cities, some of the world’s most famous scientists, and $22 billion in government funding?

Time for a thread on the most consequential government project in history👇👇👇
1) In 1939, US President Roosevelt received a letter written by physicist Leo Szilard and co-signed by none other than Albert Einstein.

The letter warned that Germany was building an atomic bomb and suggested that the US should launch its own nuclear program.
2) So, the US government began supporting nuclear research at universities.

The goal was initially just to see whether it was even possible to build a nuclear weapon.

But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, efforts ramped up… (This was when the US officially joined WWII.)
Read 13 tweets

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