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Do you know about Schrödinger’s cat? Do you understand it? Have you even heard of it? I readily confess to being in the “I think I’ve heard of it, but that’s all I can say about it”camp-until a couple of days ago. You see, I’ve become a big fan of putting my research material (read books) on Kindle. And one of the cool things about Kindle is that it means I don’t have to lug twenty pounds of real heavy books down to Building on Bond where I have my morning cappuccino and begin my work day after saying good morning to the man who is always there, and always reading real, old fashioned, heavy, clothbound books. For a while he’s been reading Proust, but I noticed Monday he had gone on to Faulkner.

But the really cool thing about Kindle, is whenever you come across a word or a phrase you don’t know or want to know more about, all you have to do is click on it and a window opens that immediately tells you all about it, how to pronounce it, and even links you to Wikipedia.

This is very useful as you can see. I don’t have to get up out of my chair and go to the bookshelf, or even open up a google page. What I want to know is just instantly revealed, magically. I get the diversion from looking for answers to my predetermined and often boring research questions to opening up really neat stuff- stuff that almost always leads to very interesting places like how they sunk the Bismarck, stuff that I don’t understand at all like Schrodinger’s cat, Researching becomes a game of endless surprises rather than a dull morning of “Have to get it done,” And out of this happy process of searching stripped of the goal of consciously trying to find something, the most incredibly useful and original things just appear-like an article from an obscure academic journal that compared William L. Shirer’s published version of Berlin Diary to the one he actually kept from 1934 to 1941, during his time as CBS’s Berlin Correspondent. (Let’s just say he made a number of interesting corrections that made him seem a bit more prescient than he actually was.) This Article has proved very useful in my understanding the Ed Murrow-William Shirer relationship and their journey from best friends to mutually persona no grata-crucial elements to the human story of the rise and fall of the great news department at CBS. This story was out there lurking in the weeds, where so much good stuff is hiding and I where wouldn’t have known to consciously go looking for it, or even that it existed.
Barbara continues to improve. A week ago Friday I was having my get-me -started-in-the-morning coffee at “our place” in Boerum Hill when my phone rang and Barbara said get up there right away she was being discharged in 2 hours. One final meeting with Dr. Doogie on Monday and he sent us back to Pittsburgh for a week of R and R. She is in remission and we should be finding out where we’re going in a week or so. She’s a little tired but looks great and starting to move with her old bounce.

From Wikipedia: Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The scenario presents a hypothetical cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead, a state known as a quantum superposition, as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.

The thought experiment is also often featured in theoretical discussions of the interpretations of quantum mechanics. Schrödinger coined the term Verschränkung (entanglement) in the course of developing the thought experiment. ( I’ve included all the hyperlinks from Wikipedia, in case you want to take a stroll into the weeds yourself.)

And that’s what’s on my mind today Wednesday October 16.


Jim Niesen


Author Irondale

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