TimTALK: Tonight’s Episode – Schrodinger’s Cat.
[Theme music fades out and the title fade out to reveal a small studio. Two cats sit in comfortable chairs with a coffee table between them. Timothy the Talking Cat (for it is he) is looking at the camera, while his guest sits opposite.]
Timothy the Talking Cat: Good evening, hello and welcome to another edition of timTALK where I, Timothy the Talking Cat, ask the tough question of the day of the great, the good and the feline. Tonight, I’m talking to one of the Twentieth Century’s most notable thought leaders. A cat who has done more for surprisingly cruel thought experiments in physics than any animal since Zeno made a tortoise race Achilles. I am, of course, talking to Schrödinger’s Cat.
[Timothy turns to his guest]
Good evening. You’ll be eighty-three years old this November, shouldn’t you be dead already?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Ha, ha, let me just say that reports of my death have been exaggerated. No, wait…they haven’t been exaggerated at all.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Before we continue can we clarify some of the surrounding controversy about your identity. Specifically “Schrödinger’s Cat” is your name?
Schrödinger’s Cat: That’s correct. Erwin Schrödinger did own a cat named Milton, who technically was a Schrödinger’s cat but I am specifically and uniquely THE Schrödinger’s cat.
Timothy the Talking Cat: And that title didn’t cause any conflict between you and Milton?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Milton saw himself more as Hilde March’s cat and was also very close to Erwin’s wife Annemarie.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Quite the crowded household?
Schrödinger’s Cat: I’m primarily a conceptual creature and possibly the least complicated thing about Erwin’s living arrangements at the time.
Timothy the Talking Cat: So let me ask you about the box?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Erwin’s steel box?
Timothy the Talking Cat: Exactly. You are trapped in a box with a cyanide capsule and a radioactive trigger?
Schrödinger’s Cat: To be fair to Erwin, I was only conceptually trapped in a steel box with a cyanide capsule.
Timothy the Talking Cat: You weren’t ACTUALLY in the box?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Well in some alternative universe, Milton is in the box.
Timothy the Talking Cat: And that’s an improvement? Either way it’s a cruel thing to do to a cat.
Schrödinger’s Cat: Again, only conceptually. Which one of us has not imagined trapping a helpless creature in a steel box with a cyanide capsule?
Timothy the Talking Cat: True, true but then again we are both cats and playing life or death games with helpless creatures is very ‘on brand’ as they say.
Schrödinger’s Cat: Exactly. Erwin’s cool and cruel detachment as he contemplates the unresolvable question of my continuing existence as I lie both dead and alive within the unobserved inner space of a steel box, is itself perhaps one of the most cat like things ever done by a primate.
Timothy the Talking Cat: As in clever, cute, somewhat cruel and deeply inexplicable?
Schrödinger’s Cat: A fair summary. To our supposed alopecia-struck ape overlords, my name has become synonymous with quantum entanglement but to me it is an experiment in human empathy.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Sticking a cat in a poisoned box is empathy?
Schrödinger’s Cat: ‘Empathy’ as in thinking like a cat.
Timothy the Talking Cat: So what’s next for Schrödinger’s Cat?
Schrödinger’s Cat: For awhile I tried to segue my fame into other conceptual thought experiments. I tried to get a gig with the ethicist Phillipa Foot but she decided to go with out of control trolleys rather than my pitch which was an out of control giant cat who could only be diverted by dangling a sacrificial victim covered in pilchard juice.
Timothy the Talking Cat: I think your pitch sounds more memorable.
Schrödinger’s Cat: Absolutely but it didn’t match her creative vision. She felt it raised to many questions about the moral agency of the cat.
Timothy the Talking Cat: I wasn’t aware we had moral agency?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Apparently we are supposed to.
Timothy the Talking Cat: So no new physic experiments?
Schrödinger’s Cat: I feel like I had sufficiently ruined physics. You know how it is: a scratching post only has so many scratches in it and physics was all scratched out. My newest venture is in e-commerce.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Sounds very 21st century. Tell me more?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Well, it’s basically a variation on Erwin’s original scheme but with people. You take a human and you trap them in an unreadable commercial agreement that they can neither understand nor avoid. I call it “Software terms and conditions”.
Timothy the Talking Cat: And what conceptual point does it illustrate?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Oh no point at all, it’s just that tech companies pay me lots of money to write them.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Revenge is best served cold?
Schrödinger’s Cat: Well being in a quantum superposition of states means I really can have my cake and eat it.
Timothy the Talking Cat: Until next time. I’m Timothy the Talking Cat and you’ve been watching TimTalk.
(materials here submitted by Camestros Felapton on behalf of Timothy the Talking Cat. More by both Camestros and Timothy can be found here.)