Objects don’t have intrinsic properties, according to a new theory. Their properties exist only in relationship to each other. Schrödinger’s Cat is both dead and alive to the human outside the box, but definitely one or the other to the cat itself.
This new theory, by Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli , has old roots, writes Peter Evans at SciTech Daily.
“During the scientific revolution, the English physics pioneer Isaac Newton and his German counterpart Gottfried Leibniz disagreed on the nature of space and time.
“Newton claimed space and time acted like a ‘container’ for the contents of the universe. That is, if we could remove the contents of the universe – all the planets, stars, and galaxies – we would be left with empty space and time. This is the ‘absolute’ view of space and time.
“Leibniz, on the other hand, claimed that space and time were nothing more than the sum total of distances and durations between all the objects and events of the world. If we removed the contents of the universe, we would remove space and time also. This is the ‘relational’ view of space and time: they are only the spatial and temporal relations between objects and events. The relational view of space and time was a key inspiration for Einstein when he developed general relativity.”
Like many of the philosophical implications of quantum physics, this sort of thing is enjoyable to contemplate on a quiet holiday morning, but has virtually no implications to what we consider real life. If I stub my toe extremely hard against a chair, there may will be myriad parallel universes where that did not happen — but I do not inhabit those universes, if they exist at all, and I am not giving them an iota of thought as I hop around the room and swear.
Still, it’s intriguing to think about alternate universes is existing, not in some theoretical fifth dimension, but just across town. Or in the other room. These alternate realities don’t exist until or unless I interact with them.
Also: I recall a recent interview with an astrophysicist who reframed the Schrodinger‘s cat thought experiment. Instead of the mechanism killing the cat if triggered, it gave the cat a treat. Because the woman did not like the thought of killing cats. And neither do I.