Schrödingers Cat, Observers and the Participatory Anthropic Principle

Following on from a posting on Rich Boakes blog I left the following comment which struck me as interesting enough to be a post of its own right here.

Rich posits the question of what would happen if Schrödingers Cat had mirrors in its own box, would it collapse its own waveform ?

My guess is not, simply because it will never be capable of observing the moment of its own death as if it were able to it would, by definition, still be alive. However, I then brought up the following..
Strangely enough, I’ve been thinking about this problem from a different viewpoint – if the box with the dead/live cat in is opened by an observer inside a locked room who then dies before being able to pass on the information does the waveform collapse when he sees it and stay collapsed, or does it not collapse from the point of view of an observer outside the room?

I was wondering if it collapsed and then uncollapsed, but I suspect from a QM point of view it’s likely to be one of the two former cases – and my gut reaction is that it would be the latter..

So again it begs the question of who/what exactly constitutes an observer ? There is the participatory anthropic principle that says that conscious life is necessary to the universe in order for the collapse of QM waveforms to occur, but I think that’s a particularly long straw to grasp..

2 thoughts on “Schrödingers Cat, Observers and the Participatory Anthropic Principle

  1. In answer to the observer in the room i had always thought that the waveforms of the cat and the observer would then combine and become a more complex “superimposed” waveform. This would then need to be observed for information to pass from person to person. As the observer dies before this happens there would have to be somebody to look into the room to propagate a collapse.

    Daemonic, the cat, is still both dead and alive. A waveform never fully collapses; it just grows more complex. Logically Damonic remains in his state of flux until _all_ conscious entities in the universe have been made aware of his fate. See “Wigners friend” on wikipedia for a starting point.

    There are a couple of good stories I seem to remember starting with this idea. “Schrodinger’s plague”? By David Brin I think. “Quarantine” by Greg Egan

    The mirror in the box scenario sounds a bit like the “quantum suicide” method of resolving which interpretation of QM is correct.

    Hello JD It’s been some time. Been wondering where you went. Get in touch.

    Darren and Sam (Newby)

Comments are closed.