Schrodinger's Cat. I was thinking (last night at two bloody thirty, go figure) that it is all a bit abstract.
Or let's say the application is vague as it is stated. I'm more interested in Schrodinger's rattlesnake. Or his Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, for that matter.
I mean, whether a cat is dead or not when you open the box is interesting--happy or sad; warm and furry, or unpleasant. But if you open the box and the rattlesnake is alive, now that really implies some consequences. If the rattlesnake is dead, too, the effect is impactful.
On the other hand, if you open the box and there's a delicious fruity pastry inside, it's cause for celebration. If the box is empty, or the pastry has passed its pull date, well, it's not the end of the world, but probably a disappointment.
But Schrodinger''s feline hypothesis seems to be slanted -- we know at the outset that there's a cat, but not its state. Let's say however that you don't know what's in the box. You're not faced with a binary choice anymore. There could be anything in it, a rattlesnake, torte, cat, new job, divorce, broken shoelace...
Our lives thus comprise an endless succession of Schrodinger boxes. They're nested: once you open one, another lies inside it. And we have no choice but to open each box. In fact, whether or not to open a box is in itself a box.
Of course what lies in each box is contingent upon, limited by, what we're doing, where we are. So in a way you control the possibilities of the box's contents by the choices you made with the previous box, and the state of its contents. That's smal comfort, I suppose, but at least you have a sense of the likelihood of a rattlesnake.
I'm reminded, thinking of these nested boxes of unknown import, of a poem by Robert Graves -- "Warning to Children" -- I once read that fascinated and deeply perturbed me, -- appropriately
enough, since after all I was a child (thanks for the gift, poet parents!):
Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
In the parcel a small island,
On the island a large tree,
On the tree a husky fruit.
Strip the husk and pare the rind off:
In the kernel you will see
Blocks of slate enclosed by dappled
Red and green, enclosed by tawny
Yellow nets, enclosed by white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where the same brown paper parcel --
Children, leave the string alone!
For who dares undo the parcel
Finds himself at once inside it,
On the island, in the fruit,
Blocks of slate about his head,
Finds himself enclosed by dappled
Green and red, enclosed by yellow
Tawny nets, enclosed by black
And white acres of dominoes,
With the same brown paper parcel
Still untied upon his knee.
And, if he then should dare to think
Of the fewness, muchness, rareness,
Greatness of this endless only
Precious world in which he says
he lives -- he then unties the string.