How Facebook Memes relate to Physics

Imagine this… casually scrolling through Facebook, and then you stumble across this:

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At first, I laughed, it was funny after all. Then, I felt like I should comment something reassuring “no you’ll do great don’t worry!”. But then, being the ever nerd I am, I spotted something much more interesting.

This, my friends, is a classic case of Schrödinger’s Cat. Now, you might be wondering, who is Schrödinger and what’s so special about his cat? Austrian Physicist Erwin Schrödinger discovered this paradox/thought experiment in 1935, which saw a problem in the conventionally accepted method of interpretation of Quantum Mechanics in Copenhagen at the time. Imagine this; a cat, in a box.

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Before we get distracted by how cute the cat is, or the likely difficulties involved in getting said cat out of the box, let’s go back to the physics.

So let’s imagine this cat, in a more accurately sized, aluminium sealed box. In this box is also a hammer. If the hammer hits the cat, the cat dies (I know, devastating). In order forthe hammer to be released, it has to be triggered by the decaying of an atom within a radioactive substance. In simpler terms, a random timer is set, and if the timer goes off, then the hammer is triggered and the cat dies.

HOWEVER, since the timer is random, there is no way of telling how long it will be until it goes off, or if it goes off at all. Therefore, once you close the box, you have no way of knowing if the cat is alive, or dead. In a paradoxical sort of way, the cat is both dead, and alive.

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Some even say that by opening the box and discovering the cat is indeed dead, you yourself have killed it since before it was a 50/50 chance. Of course, this is an overly simplified version of the experiment, but it works to relate back to the Facebook meme. And while on the subject of memes, maybe this one will also make you giggle:

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So now let’s say you have your results envelope in your hand. While closed, you have NO idea what your results are, just the knowledge of how well you think you have performed. You have, in that moment (hypothetically), both passed and failed. Once you open the envelope, you have definitive results and a conclusion to the question, but until then, you lie in a paradox.

In the meantime, perhaps reading this has taken your mind off your impending results, and has helped you to enjoy the serendipity of how humour, science and social media can come together in a strange sort of way – something I’m sure Schrödinger would love to experiment with now. Poor cat….

Written by Joana Baptista, August 2018

 

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Tea Parties, Fan Fics & 3am pranks

If someone told me I was going to spend week 2 making paper chains at 3 in the morning, I would of called it a waste of time and a waste of sleep. However, since nothing in the Outbox is ever normal, this event seemed to occur every night at the Outbox house during week two (now parents please don’t come upstairs shouting at me for a lack of sleep, I know, and I suffered the consequences).

After such an incredible week 1, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I wasn’t too sure what it would be like, with no immidiate project to run to, but it proved to be really nice and totally different to week 1.

The week started with a whole new bunch of people coming into the house, and a warm welcome to them thanks to some fab pizza (I apologise to those who didn'[t manage to get any of the barbeque chicken pizza, I mayyyy have taken one too many slices of those). One thing that really stands out to me about the Outbox, is the fantastic family you are left behind with, and many of these friendships were tightened at the end of week 1 and week 2. I made some incredible friends that week, and learnt so many things.

Some of my favourite sessions that week were led by Tina Mashaalahi, Sarah Drinkwater, Claire O’Connell & Ailish Irvine, which all had some great stories to tell and lots of lessons to learn. But my favourite session by far, was not actually a session but instead a day out, in Goldman Sachs. I felt really privileged to be in such a prestigious company, just being an ordinary 14 year old girl. At Goldman Sachs, we had a EGGtastic day learning lots about what the company is, what it does and some of its key morals and lessons. We also had lots of fun reinventing the shopping trolley.

Week 2 at the Outbox also brought a new Clapping game which we got totally hooked to (ended up getting recorded for the documentary – watch out guys), serious pink stains trying to dye our hair pink in room 11, a near death experiance (sorry Jacs for waking you up at 2am), lots of banter with our chair made out of newspaper (hospitals – this product is for you) and serious design considerations in our bin bag fashion show (shoutout to Nicole for co-hosting that with me).

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Bin Bag fashion show winners – Team FAB  🙂

My Favourite moment of week two though, by far was all of our late night fan fiction reading at 3am with a cup of tea (shoutout to Aoife for such amazing tea and for drinking it out of a bowl). I had so much fun bonding with such amazing girls, laughing into the early hours of the morning. And I’m sure the STEMettes loved it to, considering they had a nicely decorated door when they woke up one morning… p.s. STEMettes, you STILL haven’t paid us back… and I still haven’t forgiven you for that 6:50am phone call on day one of week 2. 

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BEAUTIFUL decorations from last nights intense paper-chaining

Week 2 ended with some hard godbye’s, and promises to see eachother again soon. To those girls who left that week, I shall remember you all forever, and I shall forever repeat our memes, even when no one understands *she smirked*. I hope you all remember to be generous and brush other people’s hair in the morning ;).

Lots of love,

Jo x

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