One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none; if it happens, the counter tube discharges and through a relay releases a hammer which shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if meanwhile no atom has decayed. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.
It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.
The above text is a translation of two paragraphs from a much larger original article, which appeared in the German magazine Naturwissenschaften (“Natural Sciences”) in 1935.
Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment poses the question: when does a quantum system stop existing as a mixture of states and become one or the other? (More technically, when does the actual quantum state stop being a linear combination of states, each of which resemble different classical states, and instead begin to have a unique classical description?) If the cat survives, it remembers only being alive. But explanations of the EPR experiments that are consistent with standard microscopic quantum mechanics require that macroscopic objects, such as cats and notebooks, do not always have unique classical descriptions. The purpose of the thought experiment is to illustrate this apparent paradox: our intuition says that no observer can be in a mixture of states, yet it seems cats, for example, can be such a mixture. Are cats required to be observers, or does their existence in a single well-defined classical state require another external observer? Each alternative seemed absurd to Albert Einstein, who was impressed by the ability of the thought experiment to highlight these issues; in a letter to Schrödinger dated 1950 he wrote:
You are the only contemporary physicist, besides Laue, who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality—if only one is honest. Most of them simply do not see what sort of risky game they are playing with reality—reality as something independent of what is experimentally established. Their interpretation is, however, refuted most elegantly by your system of radioactive atom + amplifier + charge of gun powder + cat in a box, in which the psi-function of the system contains both the cat alive and blown to bits. Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation.
“… generally speaking I think the reason us old folks are mistrustful of hipsters and ‘hipster rap’ in particular is because we associate hipsterdom with insincerity. Surrounding yourself with certain cultural artifacts not because you think they’re cool but as a way to signify that you don’t think they’re cool because you believe that by sarcastically surrounding yourself with uncool things you thereby bestow upon yourself a sort of bizarro world anti-matter coolness. So when we see these kids dressed like hipsters making music that resembles our music, we’re not sure whether to take that as a tribute and a sign of respect or as an ironic ‘tribute’ in which we are being sacrified at their altar of anti-coolness.”
-Jay Smooth (watch the Ill Doctrine) who goes to say Hipster Rap is alright, and the kids really mean it.