Thanks to my good friend Paul I was introduced to Schrödinger’s cat last year and its a joy that keeps on giving, this 1935 thought experiment was provided to me as a fool’s guide to Quantum Physics. In the briefest of terms it provides that a radioactive source is placed in a box with a monitor that detects the emitted radiation and when triggered releases a hammer which breaks a flask containing a lethal poison. Add a cat to the box and ask the simple question ‘is the cat alive or dead?’
Since the introduction I have debated this at much length with many colleagues and the Engineering response will be either a humorous one or, more commonly, a thoughtful ‘you cannot know’. The discharge of the radioactive source is random as is the likelihood of the discharge being detected, there is no indication from outside the box as to the detection or the welfare of the cat and so this seems a reasonable answer.
I threw the question at Gemma today and received a female answer which was enlightening. Having considered the options and the available information she didn’t hesitate to make a decision, the cat was dead. The next step in this debate, one where legal training comes in handing, is to ask ‘why’? and this illicited more thinking and ‘because its random’ …..’and well its more likely than not’ before some more thinking and reaching ‘hang on how long has it been in there?’ It’s interesting that the decision was made without any justification, despite apparent consideration, and also once an attempt was made to justify the decision it led inevitably to the need for more facts albeit facts that would not help answer the question.
How often does this mindset affect our everyday life? and is this mindset an Engineer/non Engineer or the more basic male/female juxtoposition? I don’t know the answer but it does illustrate an interesting difference in the machinations of minds. Is this, perhaps, why your wife does not listen to your excuses before chastising you, simply because she does not need all of the facts to make a decision? alternatively is this why your husband has not put the shelves up yet, because he needs to consider all of the facts before deciding?
I was discussing this with Wayne on the journey from work today and it led me to another thought on the technicalities of life. If we are saying that the male mind is most suited to detail and practicality and to weighing up decisions, then who is it that decided that men should determine their clothing choices simply by running a tape measure around the area to be clothed whilst women should have a code? What does a size ten mean and why not simply use the measured values? Is it an attempt to disguise unfavourable numbers? or to increase the amount of time that a low size is maintained since guys measure by inch but there are 2 inches between women’s sizes so they can hang onto a smaller size for longer?
I am thinking that not only is it a code but it’s designed to confuse the male of the species and allow women a ready excuse as to why clothing gifts need to be exchanged. To further support my belief that this is all intentionally coded I point to our American cousins who have shifted their register such that a UK/AUS size 12 is a US size 10 which reminds me of the diet food debate, making the number smaller does not make the person smaller!