How Schrödinger’s Cat Lives on in the Crypto Space

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  • Schrödinger’s Cat is a thought experiment that many cryptocurrency holders unwittingly replicate most mornings
  • The ‘experiment’ was an attempt to argue against the inaccuracies of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics
  • Just checking your portfolio every morning goes some way to boosting Schrödinger’s theory

Cryptocurrency may not immediately have anything to do with quantum mechanics, but the fact is that a simple early morning check of your crypto portfolio taps into a disputed theory on the subject that dates back almost 100 years. So what on Earth does the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics and the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment have to do with your shitcoins? The answer is more than you might think. 

Quantum Mechanics Debate

Schrödinger’s Cat is a thought experiment devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It was created as a ‘practical’ example of Schrödinger’s dislike of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics created around 10 years earlier, or rather the logical lengths to which the theory was being taken.

The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics suggested that “a quantum system remains in superposition until it interacts with, or is observed by the external world.” In short, this suggests that an event with opposing potential outcomes could be in multiple states until it was eventually observed. This, Schrödinger said, was being taken out of context, but he needed an example to illustrate it.

Introducing Schrödinger’s Cat 

Schrödinger’s ‘experiment’ (which wasn’t a real experiment) involved placing a cat in a box with a device that had a 50% chance of killing it at any time (Schrödinger suggests a radioactive device) and leaving it for a while. Common sense would suggest that the cat could, at any time, either be in one of two states during its time in the box – alive or dead.

Schrödinger argued that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics would have it that, until the cat’s state was observed, it could simultaneously be both alive and dead, which was obviously absurd.

Do Try This at Home

So where does cryptocurrency come in? Well, the chances are you replicate the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment most mornings when you check your portfolio app. In this updated version of Schrödinger’s Cat, your portfolio is the cat in the box and the bleary eyed opening of your chosen app is the event’s interaction with the external world. 

Think about when you first wake up in the morning, especially if you opened a large leverage position the night before, or simply went big on a risky alt coin. The trade might have come off and you might now be rich! Or, conversely, your coin could have dumped, or the entire market might have crashed overnight, and you could have been mercilessly rekt. Schrödinger’s point was that you can’t be both rich and rekt at the same time just because your portfolio remains unobserved. You are one or the other, you just don’t know which one yet – the two states cannot temporarily coexist.

Critics will argue that the value of the tokens in your portfolio are in a permanently observed state anyway thanks to the millions of others watching the market and that your portfolio might in fact have not changed whatsoever overnight, but these are the kind of people who don’t get invited to parties so we can ignore them.

Walking in the Footsteps of Philosophical Giants

When Schrödinger was discussing the concept of quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein in the 1930s, it’s safe to assume that his famous thought experiment would be replicated every morning by millions of cryptocurrency traders all over the world.

So the next time you wake after a fitful night’s sleep, reach for your phone and wonder whether that shitcoin has made you a fortune or not, consider for a split second that you are replicating in real life the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment that was first discussed by Erwin Schrödinger with Albert Einstein 85 years ago.

And then weep at the sea of red.