Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cat in the Box

I'm writing this entry from my home state of Connecticut, and it's good to be home! The drive back here, though long, was an inspiring one, filled with interesting sights and people. But on to today's entry.
Recently I encountered Schrodinger's infamous cat- the cat was used as a thought experiment (not a literal experiment) to show how the principle of "superposition" works. I find it has some analogy in the process of reading the Tarot as well.
So to start off, we have a cat. This cat goes into a box, the design of which is such that we can't tell anything about the cat from outside the box- that is, when it's closed we can't see, hear or otherwise get any information on the cat. We don't know what is going on inside the box without opening it. Also in this box is a mechanism where (long story short) there is an exactly equal chance that the cat will die from the device- and likewise an equal chance that the cat will not be killed by the device. So, in goes the cat, the box is sealed, and we are left to speculate about the state of the cat. Is the cat alive or dead? Keep in mind we have no idea of knowing except one- open the box and observe the cat.
Schrodinger's point here is that the cat, until it is observed, is in a state of "superposition"- that is, since the odds are perfectly equal as to whether the cat is alive or dead, until we confirm it and assign a state to the cat, it's both alive and dead.

Granted, we don't often, if ever, encounter a situation where there are exactly two possible outcomes, and where there are equal probabilities of both outcomes. I find that our own lives are somewhat like the cat in some ways- we start with potential, then the decisions we make form that potential into definite states. But to reiterate, very rarely do we find a state where probabililties are equal- everything that has come before has, in one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent will influence any given decision.
So what we find is a somewhat predictable world. It's interesting at this point to examine once again the question of free will vs. predetermination. We do have free wil, and can indeed change the path we're on. However, the past also influences the present. So what's the answer? Understanding first how the past influences us, and second, understanding how to change the path we're on can allow us to make needed or desired changes. Sometimes it's simply a question of knowing where to start.
We find that the whole thing looks something like this- we have free will, but what we have already set in motion will continue to affect the present. Before we can begin anew, we first have to put to rest the past. And again, the process is all about understanding- not making another person's decisions for them, but rather helping everyone to make the best decisions possible. Not everything is known, and there are always factors we can't readily account for- but the fact is, most of these unknowns tend to cancel each other out, and what we truly will, where our hearts are, is what we see in our lives.

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