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Google Doodle Honors Physicist Erwin Schrödinger

google doodle of schrodinger's cat
A Google doodle on Aug. 12 honored physicist Erwin Schrodinger's famous Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment. (Image credit: Google screen shot)

Google honored the physicist Erwin Schrödinger with a custom-made doodle today, on what would have been his 126th birthday. The doodle depicts Schrödinger's cat, a famous thought experiment that probes the implications of the fact that quantum particles can exist in multiple states until they are measured.

The famous physicist was born in Austria in 1877 and began working on some of the fundamental questions of quantum mechanics by the 1920s. Schrödinger devised several fundamental equations that describe how the behavior of tiny particles changes over time. He died in 1961 after a long bout of tuberculosis.

But he may be most famous for his Schrödinger's cat thought experiment. That experiment posited the existence of an imaginary cat trapped inside of a box with a vial of poisoned gas, which opens when a radioactive particle randomly decays. Quantum mechanics says that we cannot know if the particle has decayed, the vial has opened and the cat has met his demise until we measure the decay. In theory then, the cat is both alive and not-alive until the box is measured, and the vial is either opened or not.

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Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News, Wired.com, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.