The Zombie Cat
One of the postulates of quantum physics is that events cannot
be said to have truly occurred until apprehended by an observer. That is
notwithstanding the presence of the universe itself, whose creation (in all
likelihood) predated a witness other than God himself. An atheist might -- or
rather, must -- suppose that quantum physics sprang full-borne and full of
devious ambition sometime shortly after that maelstrom of initial creation.
Needless to say, this is not a highly supportable hypothesis...
Perhaps you are one of those few remaining Hottentots who are not by now
familiar with the peculiar tenets and paradoxes of quantum physics.
Statistically, that hardly seems likely. The subject has been profusely milked
by dozens of hack science journalists whose sole ambition is to squeeze yet
another redundant, pathetic tract about quantum physics into the already
bulging "Science & Technology" shelves at Barnes & Noble. You may have given
those books a miss -- if so, give this article a miss, too, thanks.
The great physicist Ernst Schroedinger and his famous "dead/undead cat"
thought experiment showed how Quantum Physics could translate itself from the
realm of tenous subatomic particles into the solid macroscopic world in which
we live. Here is an true anecdotal example to illustrate this:
I live in the country, and have a long driveway that winds its way through the
woods. A dead tree fell across my driveway the other week. Upon seeing it, I
had to bring my car to a screeching halt to avoid plowing into it.
Fortunately, that occurred in the afternoon, when I was coming back home from
a trip out of town. If I'd been driving in the early morning on my way to
work, it's doubtful that I would've even noticed the damn tree laying
across my path. I suppose, being in my normal morning state of unobservant
mental torpor, the tree would not have been either upright or prone, but
rather in some unworldly physical state somehow incorporating, in juxtaposed
fashion, both states at once. I therefore would have entered into a eigenstate
where I simultaneously (1) passed through an unobstructed driveway, and (2)
plowed into a fallen tree. It is not clear to me exactly when the quantum wave
function of these two possibilities would have collapsed into the actual
event. Perhaps sometime during my 2nd cup of coffee at work, when my brain
began to function normally.
It occurs to me that many pending quantum wave functions from our past have
yet to collapse on us, either because we're too stupid or too busy to
pay attention to things around us.
To be fair, it's said that 90% of our brain function serves to suppress
superfluous perceptions. Otherwise, we could never deal with the sensual
bombardment that continually assails us. However, that infers that 90% of all the
events that have actually transpired in our lives never came to ontological
fruition because we didn't observe them occurring at the time.
But it's also a fact, proven from psychological experiments involving deep
hypnosis, that all that we have seen, heard, smelled and touched are stored
somewhere in our brains and can potentially be recalled, given the proper
scene and setting. Their unfolding often happens in our dreams. So you must
conclude that dreams are capable of collapsing the quantum wave function,
allowing reality to burst forth out of the netherworld of being/not being.
Knowing this, will you be alive or dead tomorrow morning? Sleep tight, curl up
with your cat -- and hope it's not a zombie…