Quantum Mechanic

“So what seems to be the problem, sir.” Buster, the technician from QI, LLC, set his tool box on the floor of the kitchen. “Nice tiles, by the way.”

“Hmm? Oh, thanks. The misses picks those sort of things.” The owner of the house ran his hand over his bald head as if he still had hair. “And thanks for getting here on such sort notice. I’m having a dickens of a time with her.”

Buster raised one eyebrow. “Trouble with the misses? Not sure I can help you there.”

“What? No, no. With the cat. The trouble is with the cat.” The owner motioned for Buster to follow as they walked to a small private office. On the desk sat a large wooden box.

“Schrödinger, I presume? Looks like the deluxe model 22A.” Buster tipped up the brim of his cap.

“Exactly. You see, I deal in uncertainties, and I ordered this kit. The, uh, deluxe one, to generate a certain amount of uncertainty.”

“You triggered the timer and opened the radioactive canister according to instructions?”

“Yes, yes. I’ve done this many times before. When the timer goes off, it may or may not cause the radioactive isotope to decay, which in turn may or may not kill the cat. This isn’t my first rodeo, you know.”

Buster raised the eyebrow again. “Don’t know much about rodeos, but what seems to be the problem?”

“Well…” They were interrupted by a mewling sound. “That’s the problem. As long as the cat keeps making noise, then I already know it’s still alive. Certain about it, in fact. Can’t have that. Have to have uncertainty. You can see my problem.”

Buster nodded and examined the outside of the box. “Well, I can open the box and reset the experiment, but I’m afraid there’s a catch.”

“And what would that be?” queried the owner.

“Well, when I open the box, that might trigger the radioactive isotope, so it might kill the two of us in stead of the cat. Kind of a Cat’s Schrödinger situation, if you get my drift.”

“Oh,” said the owner. “Well. Then. The cat seems to have inverted the experiment. Oh dear. Whatever will we do? Can’t have the cat in control of all that uncertainty.”

“Well then,” Buster said. “Looks like we’ll have to risk it. Stand back a bit, not like that would actually change anything. I’ll unlatch the lid.”

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