U of R boffin analyzes cool, kills Schrodinger’s cat in the process

For those of you who are not quantum physics enthusiasts or fans of The Big Bang Theory, Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment. To be clear: no cats were harmed in the making of this metaphor.

As a means of explaining the complex characteristics of subatomic particles and their various states, Schrodinger proposed to Einstein that if you put a cat inside a sealed box whose fate rests on the state of a subatomic particle, the cat could be thought of as being both dead and alive so long as the box remained sealed. There is no way to know what the cat’s fate is without peering inside the box. [1. We presume that there were air holes in the box.. somewhere. Perhaps on the bottom. Because otherwise, the fate of Shrodinger’s cat would have been very obvious, indeed.]

More importantly, quantum mechanics tells us that the cat does exist in both states while the box is closed. Opening the box forces reality – according to some theories – to coalesce around a single definition, leaving all other states to disappear.

And while its doubtful that either Shrodinger or Einstein would have applied the same thought experiment to “cool,” I think it an apt metaphor. Because the one thing everybody who is or would like to think themselves as “cool” tends to eschew on pain of death is…  definition. Clearly, this particular researcher did not get the memo:

“James Dean is no longer the epitome of cool,” Dar-Nimrod said. “The much darker version of what coolness is still there, but it is not the main focus. The main thing is: Do I like this person? Is this person nice to people, attractive, confident and successful? That’s cool today, at least among young mainstream individuals.”

No, James Dean is not the epitome of cool, but that’s doubtless because James Dean is dead. Like, not Shrodinger’s Cat dead. Just dead. 67 years dead and counting.

But “cool” also predates James Dean, nor is James Dean its only model. The original model of “cool,” would, if history is any guide, be considerably darker-skinned, for a start.

It is a term that means many things – and nothing – from whether a person is “cool” as a state of being, to whether a person is “cool” as a social queue. If you’re passing a joint at a concert and say, “don’t worry, that guy’s cool,” you don’t mean that he’s “attractive, confident and successful,” but you also don’t mean he looks like a 2/3 century dead teenager. You mean he’s fine to pass the joint to.[2. Also, god help you if you’re in a band and your friends tell you the show was “pretty cool.” Kiss of death, that.]

“Cool” is contextual, ephemeral and esoteric. Its also nowhere near as complex as any of those words. And unfortunately for this researcher, a passing glance at the results of his research prove that there are Shrodinger’s Cat experiments which will never fail in the end to kill that cat deader than a door nail every. goddamned. time.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.