Monday, May 09, 2016

Schrödinger's Trump: Welcome to Quantum Politics

For years I’ve struggled to understand quantum theory.  For months I’ve struggled to understand Trump.   I understand both better now, because Trump has invented quantum politics and become Schrödinger's Candidate.

Do you know “Schrödinger's cat”?  This highly respected thought-experiment dramatizes how parts of the universe behave quite differently from our familiar reality (and from classical physics).  I’ve never been able to hold all the elements of the cat experiment in mind long enough to grasp “quantum superposition” or the “uncertainty principle.”

For those new to Schrödinger's cat, here’s a brief over-simplified summary - skip this section if you don’t need it.
 - photo of real cat in box with relevant items
Once upon time, a cat and a device are sealed together inside a box.  The highly sensitive and reliable device will release a deadly poisonous gas whenever it first detects even the smallest instance of radioactivity.  The box does not block radioactivity.  But, when closed, the box does not reveal anything about its contents.  Without opening the box, we cannot know whether the cat is alive or dead.
Yet when someone looks in the box, the cat will be seen to be either alive or dead.  So, within the closed box the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. That status is offered as an illustration of “quantum superposition.”

Now, how has Donald Trump helped me understand, finally, quantum superposition?  I.e., that until we open the box, the cat is BOTH alive and dead?  Isn’t that a contradiction?  And aren’t contradictions excluded from rational discourse by classical logic, mathematics, rhetoric, the legal system, ...journalistic standards?