Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Schrödinger's Prime Minister

Schrödinger's cat is a famous thought experiment in quantum physics, which illustrates the indeterminacy of quantum events. A cat is stuck in a box with a tiny amount of radioactive material - enough to statistically produce a 50% chance of a radioactive decay within an hour - and a mechanism designed to break a flask of poison gas if it detects a radioactive decay. Quantum mechanics describes the situation as a superposition of states, in which the cat is both alive and dead at the same time.

Now we seem to have a Schrödinger's Prime Minister. In response to questions in the House today about his comments on the safety of the Pike River mine, John Key initially sought to blame the previous government. When it was pointed out that the mine was initially consented in 1998, he suddenly claimed not to know when it had happened. When asked which response was correct, he then claimed "both". So, he claims both to know and not know when the mine was consented.

Clearly we need to collapse his wavefunction. Anyone got a box?