Today, I conducted a scientific experiment to put quantum theory to the test. I would like to think of this as a kind of Schrodinger’s Dog experiment. It was not a thought experiment, but an actual physical experiment using my dog as the subject. I’ll let you into the results in just a moment.
You have probably heard of Schrodinger’s Cat before, just as you have probably heard of Pavlov’s Dogs. Just in passing, you are very unlikely to have heard of Pavlov’s Cat experiments for two reasons. Firstly, because he didn’t actually do any as far as we know and second, because, as Eddie Izzard once pointed out, they would be very unlikely to work.
Here’s Eddie’s interpretation of how Pavlov’s notes might have looked if he had decided to conduct his experiments with a cat:
Day 1: Rang bell. Cat [disappeared]*.
Day 2: Rang bell. Cat answered the door.
Day 3: Rang bell. Cat said he had eaten earlier.
Day 4: Went to ring bell, but cat had stolen batteries.
Day 5: Went to ring bell with new batteries, but cat put his paw on bell so it only made a thunk noise. Then cat rang his own bell. I ate food.
* I did change Eddie’s wording just a little.
OK, now to my own experiment conducted earlier today in honour of Erwin Schrodinger. You remember the idea that, with the parallel universe theory, the cat is both dead and alive but in separate universes? If you don’t here’s a quick refresher.
So, to test this theory, I took a chocolate cake that we had left over from my wife’s birthday party, made a pot of tea and cut two pieces. I took a piece of cake and a cup of tea to my wife and then I took my own cake and cuppa up to my study to continue writing.
At this time, I was not really conducting an experiment, I was just taking a break. But, as I sat there in my study, I realised that the dog had a decision to make. Would she go and sit by my wife or would she hot-foot it up the stairs to my study to sit next to me? It’s a tough decision, but after a few seconds, she made her decision and my dog was sat next to me.
That was when I started thinking about Schrodinger’s Cat. I thought to myself that there is supposed to be another version of my dog who made the opposite choice and so should then be sitting next to my wife in a parallel universe. I ate the cake, drank some of my tea and gave the dog a morsel.
Now, we have been trying very hard to eat up all of the spare cake since my wife’s birthday – it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it 😉 Then I thought that, purely in the interests of science you understand, perhaps we should try the same routine again. So, I went downstairs, cut two more pieces of cake, took one in to my wife and again took the other up to my study to have with the remainder of my tea. The dog was already sitting by my wife who was just finishing off her first piece.
As I sat down, I thought to myself that the dog would be far less likely to appear and sit next to me this time because she was already busy trying to blag a piece of cake downstairs. But just a couple of seconds later, there she was. This second version of the experiment produced exactly the same outcome as the first. She had a decision to make and faced with the same options, she made the same choice.
And that was when I realised that, even if parallel universes did exist, faced with this decision, every version of my dog would be sitting next to me in each of them. That was the best decision and my dog was always going to make that decision, never the opposite one, because she is smart and she knows which option represents the best probability of getting fed regardless of which universe she is in.