A man once came to a rabbi with said news – his cat just died. Rabbi politely expressed his sympathy to the owner of the deceased cat. He thanked the rabbi and asked if he could say kaddish (memorial prayer) for his cat. Rabbi was taken aback – a kaddish for a cat?! This is sacrilege! The man offered to donate to the synagogue a thousand dollars, if the rabbi would allow him to say kaddish for his cat, but to no avail. He offered two thousand, five thousand, but rabbi was unmoved. When the man finally offered ten thousand dollars, the rabbi exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me your cat was Jewish?!”
I am not sure if the cat in this old Jewish joke was Jewish, but the Schrödinger cat must have been! Or, perhaps, it was Jewish and Not Jewish at the same time? Even if it wasn’t, since this noble feline helped us to explain so many difficult Torah concepts, it is time to elevate this creature to at least the status of a righteous cat! And this cat certainly does not need no kaddish – being dead and alive at the same time certainly leaves the possibility that upon collapsing cat’s wavefunction we may find it alive.
Today is the birthday of Ervin Schrödinger (August 12, 1887– January 4, 1961). He may have been born on this day 127 years ago… Or, for all I know, today could be his yortzait (anniversary of passing)! Dead, alive… these concepts are now so passé, thanks to Dr. Schrödinger. Why do we always insist on collapsing the wavefunction? Let it be… as the famous Beatles song goes. Old chap, Schrödinger, deserved at least the level of immortality achieved by the eponymous cat.
Last year, to commemorate Schrödinger’s birthday, Google Doodles honored his immortal creation – the cat:
His quantum superposition state notwithstanding, long live Schrödinger cat! And long live his creator, Ervin Schrödinger!