The Cat In A Box

         “What happened to the cat?”

         “What cat?”

         “The cat in the box.”

         “There was no cat.”

         “But… you said that the experiment calls for a cat.”

         “It’s a hypothetical theory.”

         “So… it can’t be proved.”

         “We’ve already proven it.”

         “How have we proven it?”

         “By theorising…”

         “That’s silly.”

         “It’s science.”

         “So, you’re telling me that as a science theorist, you just need to think about a problem, make up a theory, then guess the outcome?”

         “We pose a problem, calculate it, then theorise its results…”

         “Just so you can prove if something is or is not…”

         “Or can be… but that’s the end result of many complex calculations.”

         “Like all those marathon sessions you used to hold at college?”

         “Similar, but more evolved, now.”

         “So, no more late-night, weed-smoking inspired debates about Newton, Old Albert, and Eddington?”

         “…That was college. Not partaken since.”

         “Good move. Save both your remaining brain cells for when needed.”

         “Funny… didn’t prevent me getting Doctorates in Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Chemistry, Mathematics, etc, etc.”

         “I’ve seen the work. There’s a few calculations still scribbled on the wall behind the curtains over there.”

         “All documented now.”

         “Then get a paintbrush and cover it up…”

         “I’ve signed it, just in case I become famous.”

         “Yes, let’s sell it on eBay titled, Foundations of juvenile thought… House included… Buy it now!

         “Theorisation is part of the development process. It takes a lot of what-ifs, what-else’s, and whatnots to build on a concept.”

         “I can do that without a science degree.”

         “I don’t think so.”

         “I can prove there was no cat in that box.”

         “That’s not the theory.”

         “Ok, I can prove the cat was alive in that box.”

         “How? It’s a hypothetical problem.”

         “By opening it.”

         “But it wasn’t a real experiment.”

         “Why not?”

         “There was no cat.”

         “In theory there was.”

         “Yes, but the problem was not whether a cat was in the box or not, the challenge was what state it was in?”

         “A state of fright, most likely.”

         “Theoretically speaking, that would be a separate state.”

         “You and your theories are weird…”

         “Look, it’s simply a thought experiment. It’s what’s called, ‘Quantum Superposition,’ where something exists in two different states at the same time.”

         “Doctor Who says you can’t.”

         “Can’t what?”

         “Exist in two places at the same time.”

         “It’s a state, not a place.”

         “What’s the difference?”

         “A place is a location.”

         “Like California.”

         “Ok, yes… However, a state can be an existence, or a place in time…”

         “Like California…”

         “Can you please be serious for a minute? I’m trying to explain… Oh, just forget it…”

         “…I’m hungry. Fancy a pizza?”



         “On your half only, please… oh, and barbeque sauce.”

         “Right you are… bringing up the app… search previous orders… select that one… order… and pay… Done!”

         “…Anyway, Doctor Who isn’t real. It’s a TV show.”

         “So why do you watch it, then?”

         “It’s entertaining – in a complete unrealistic way.”

         “What’s wrong with it?”

         “The whole, Time Lord concept… all the interfering with moments in history he does throughout different periods of time, would have a serious effect on historical timelines – in reality. Newton’s third law of motion says, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ So, interfering with history – like Doctor Who does… all the time – would change the future. In a real scenario, Doctor Who’s manipulation of time, could even cause you to be never born and then who would I have married?”

         “But, he’s a Time Lord. That’s his job… to move around time.”

         “That’s because he’s torn so many holes in the fabric of the Space-Time Continuum, he has to keep returning to patch up all the gaps he’s left.”

         “…Who would you have married, instead?”

         “Who…why do you!? What kind of question is that?”

         “It’s a Superposition in the fabric of the Space-Time Continuum…”

         “That is a hypothetical question… and now you’re mocking me.”

         “…Sarah Jenkins…”


         “You’ve always liked her. When she introduced us on our blind date, I could see it in your eyes.”

         “It was dark in that restaurant, and I’d left my glasses at home.”

         “You were giving her smoochie eyes.”

         “I was squinting… trying to focus.”

         “You held her hand a long time when saying goodbye.”

         “Look, I’ve known Sarah longer than I’ve known you… There was a time…”

         “Ah hah! I knew it!”

         “…Let me finish, please… There was a time when I thought she might be someone I’d like to…”

         “Sleep with?”

         “…Spend time with. God, your jealousy is a bit much, sometimes.”


         “I married you, no-one else came close.”


         “I fell in love with you, you clown.”

         “But you’re so much smarter than me.”

         “I have a science education, yes. That doesn’t qualify me as being smarter. You’re much better with finances, world politics, Wordle.”

         “I am pretty good at Wordle, aren’t I?”


         “…You’re much better at Science.”

         “I’m a scientist. It helps… You are also better at… technology, apps, remote controls… ordering pizza…”

         “That’s just life. If you’d look up from your scribbles once-in-a-while, you’d see the world changing in front of you.”

         “Change is constant, but as a scientist, I’m more interested in why it’s constant. You know, I studied the Theory of Change… as an understudy in Philosophy. For me there wasn’t enough formulas, just too many outcomes and divisive solutions.”

         “…And what you do now has less solutions?”

         “…More possibilities.”

         “Same thing.”

         “It’s not the same thing. Philosophy may be used in the practice of law but it is not a law. There’s too many variants involved to find a conclusive answer.”

         “I saw a message displayed on a drinks machine the other day. It said Exact Change Only. That would make a great philosophical debate… especially if those debating it were stoned…”

         “Do you remember John Morgan? We took some logic classes together. He wrote a formula for Exact Change… Sent him bonkers trying to come to terms with it… He now works at the ticket office at Grand Central Station in New York… Now, there’s a conundrum…”

         “Poor love. I’ll bet he can’t stop counting exact change...”

         “Give me theoretical physics any day… Theories produce qualitative reasoning for quantitative simulation.”

         “Saved that up for this moment, did you?”

         “It sounded good.”

         “You sounded like a geek… So, let me get this straight… your daily job is to select a couple of scenarios.”


         “…Then answer with a this-or-that-or-whatever conclusion, is it?”

         “It’s mathematical, you wouldn’t understand.”

         “I have a calculator, genius. I’d figure it out.”

         “Not that type of Math.”

         “…So, what about the cat?”

         “What cat?”

         “In the box…”

         “It’s a thought experiment in quantum theory. Erwin Schrödinger – the physicist – developed an equation to calculate the wave function of a system and how it changed dynamically in time… His theory envisaged sealing a cat into a box alongside a vial of poison and over a period of time, the vial would break if a radioactive particle in it decayed… It’s a probability theory related to quantum physics. The hypothesis embraces the concept of that particle adopting the superposition of decayed and not decayed.”

         “How can that be? It’s one or the other, right? It can’t be both.”

         “Should we bear witness to the event, then the supposition of the superposition does not hold true; however, as the box is sealed, both possibilities exist in the same state and since the cat’s life depends on the state of the radioactive particle, it is theorised that the cat is both dead and alive.”

         “Poor kitty. Why did they use a cat. Horrible people. So many poor animals have been sacrificed in the name of science.”

         “…There was no real cat.”

         “Was it dead?”

         “That’s not the point… By not looking in the box, the cat’s fate is unknown, presumed dead and alive – in both states.”

         “Why didn’t they just open the box?”

         “That would have nullified the theory. The cat would have existed in only one state, then.”


         “…Most likely.”


         “Do you understand, now?”

         “Yes, Professor! The cat was waiting for the box to open, while the cruel scientists’ brain froze to death, just waiting for his theory to materialise, like the ghost of the cat…”

         “You need to eat. You’re humour is waning.”

         “Pizza’s on its way. I’m tracking it on the app – it’s in a Delivery State…”

         “My point proved…”

         “Alright, I’m listening. Go on.”

         “Whatever… Look… theories warrant the pursuit of absolute truth. For example, let’s consider the subject of quantum computing… Since the early days of binary – where computers only recognised a state of 1 representing a signal like ‘On’ or 0 representing… let’s say, ‘Off,’ data has been processed with combinations of ones and zeroes representing a collective code to form a series of instructions. Quantum Superposition made it possible to theorise that the binary states of a computer command could exist as independent states within one event… When physicists discovered that vibrating atoms make robust qubits – a quantum bit, per say – and that the qubits have the ability to maintain a superposition between two vibrational states for a period of time – such as ten seconds – the foundation of quantum computing was born.”

         “Summary, please – in Idiots Guide format.”

         “It means that a command can be both on and off.”

         “While vibrating…”

         “Yes! Exactly!”

         “Like a Dildo…”

         “Where is your mind, right now?”

         “Am I right?”

         “…It’s a possibility.”

         “HA! Does Kogan sell them?”


         “…Quantum Computers.”

         “Unless the average spreadsheet user needs complex decision making and the handling of very large data, plus has a large, freezing cold shed to store them in… I don’t think you will see them advertised online. They’re not for home use, yet.”

         “Pizza’s here.”

         “…Make sure they’ve put pineapple on half before you accept. You’re the only one that likes it on pizza. Can you grab a couple of beers as you pass the kitchen, please… That was quick. Thank you.”

         “…Would you have married her?”

         “Who… Sarah?”   

         “She’d have been far less expensive for you and probably a better match.”

         “You were always the one for me. Besides, I didn’t love her. I loved you.”

         “You do realise what you just said was all past tense…”

         “L.O.V.E. Y.O.U… Love you, love you, LOVE YOU! That’s past, present, and future, no matter what the semantics of it are.”

         “How would you theorise that? Seal us both in a box and see who loves longer?”

         “We don’t need to theorise. That is a forgone conclusion.”

         “Pizza’s nice and hot.”

         “Let’s eat, then!”

         “Not yet.”


         “This is a perfect example of your superposition theory…”

         “It’s a pizza… in a box.”

         “Right now, the pizza has both pineapple and no pineapple on it. It is in two states. When I open this lid, it will exist in only one state… See, I was listening.”

         “That’s cute, but inconclusive.”


         “Open the lid… go on!”

         “See! Like I said there’s both pineapple and no pineapple. Two states existing in one.”

         “But we knew that when you ordered it.”

         “I don’t get it.”

         “We knew both existed. That is one state. We needed a second state in the box to theorize the superposition.”

         “…The cat?”

         “What cat?”

         “…In the box.”

         “…Come here, my little Einstein and let’s debate pineapple on pizza, instead…”

Culled from by Chris Campbell.

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