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Is Schrödinger’s cat dead or alive, and other questions about quantum | Euronews Tech Talks

Euronews Tech Talks is the podcast that explores the digital, technological, and scientific landscape shaping Europe.
Euronews Tech Talks is the podcast that explores the digital, technological, and scientific landscape shaping Europe.
By Marta Rodriguez MartinezAlice Carnevali
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Euronews Tech Talks has gathered questions from the audience and asked two experts in quantum mechanics and computing to answer them.


What is quantum computing? Will it simplify our lives and increase our productivity? What challenges does it face and will it replace parts of our laptops and smartphones for quicker computations?

Plus the century's mystery: Is Schrödinger’s cat dead or alive?

We put all these questions to two experts in quantum computing: Stephanie Wehner is a professor at Delft University of Technology and the director of the Quantum Internet Alliance. Mathias Van Den Bossche is in charge of the key R&D topics for the future of Thales Alenia Space

What is Schrödinger’s cat?

Schrödinger’s cat is the famous 1935 thought experiment by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. 

In this experiment, a cat is placed inside a sealed box along with a radioactive atom, a radiation monitor, a vial of poison, and a hammer.

If the monitor known as a Geiger counter detects radiation due to the decay of the radioactive atom, it triggers the hammer to break the vial of poison, which would kill the cat.

According to quantum mechanics, until the box is opened and observed, the radioactive atom exists simultaneously in both a decayed and undecayed state. Consequently, the cat, too, is both alive and dead.

It illustrates one of the main principles of quantum mechanics: the "superposition," where a quantum system can exist in multiple states simultaneously until it’s observed. 

This fundamental concept in quantum mechanics differentiates it from classical mechanics.

But Schrödinger's cat has also become a widely recognised symbol of the strangeness of quantum mechanics, helping to bring complex scientific concepts to the general public's attention and sparking interest in the field. 

And that’s what we’re looking at in this episode: how we can approach the worlds of quantum mechanics.

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