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14 January 2011 / Liz Johns

The Cat That Made A Quantum Jump (Perhaps)

Cat Observed in First Particle Location

I’m not sure, but I think I might have stumbled upon experimental proof that a certain quantum theory is true in the macro world (our world as we see it) as well as in the micro (teeny particles) world. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that physics isn’t my strong point, so there may be some lack of validity with my claim, hence I’m posting it to my WordPress blog instead of to The New Scientist.

What Happened Was …

It all happened when I was in the bedroom and saw my cat, curled up fast asleep on the bed, oblivious to me and seemingly all else. I didn’t think much about it, cats are after all asleep most of the time, so pretty normal activity. But then I went into the kitchen, glanced over to where the cat food bowls were and there was my cat! The very same one that had, a split second ago, been  fast asleep in another room. How could she have got there so fast and so unnoticed? Could she be a quantum cat?

Erwin Schrodinger

And Now The Science Bit

The reason I wondered that is that recently I’ve been reading a bit about about quantum physics (for dummies) and learnt that when electrons move around the nucleus, they don’t move through space as ‘ordinary’ objects do, they disappear from where they currently are and appear in their next location instantaneously i.e. they make a quantum jump. Also, I learnt that it is impossible to predict the next location of an electron, only formulate probabilities of where it might go (Schrodinger’s Wave Equation).

Interesting huh? But listen to this. Quantum physics also tells us that an electron exists as both a particle and a wave. As a particle, the electron has an exact location. As a wave, it has a probability of being in a certain location. And it is only when the electron is ‘observed’ (in this case by the scientist running the experiment), that the wave ‘collapses’ into a particle and then has a precise location and can be measured.

Cat Probability Wave Collapsed Into Second Location

Quantum Cat?

Could this have happened in the case of my cat? I first observed her on the bed, so hence she had a precise, measurable (and very comfortable) location. I had no idea whether she would move, or if she did where she would go. Then, with a quantum jump, she appeared as I observed her, in the kitchen, by the food bowls. Was it my act of observing her in the kitchen that caused her probability waves to collapse into a particle, in other words, caused her to instantaneously appear in the kitchen at the food bowl location?


Okay, the whole thing is merely an amusing observation and highly flawed scientifically, but if it happens again, I’ll let you know. It may change quantum physics as we know it. Or in my case, don’t know it.

[Any errors in the physics theory presented in this piece are purely due to my own incomprehension of quantum physics.]


ADDITION TO POST. If any of you know Minecraft, check out this vid showing a Minecraft-created double-slit experiment with chickens. Excellent.


Leave a Comment
  1. Snoring Dog Studio / Jan 15 2011 12:20 am

    What a funny and engaging post! I’ve loved it. Stick with your theory, Liz – cats are the enigmas of the animal world.


    • Liz Johns / Jan 16 2011 11:31 am

      Yes, I too thought cats were the enigmas of the animal world, until I met parrots. Cats may explain quantum theory, but parrots are the leaders in chaos theory. 🙂


      • Snoring Dog Studio / Jan 17 2011 12:48 am

        I wanted to get a parrot after reading a nonfiction book about a guy living on a small farm who had quite a menagerie. Can’t remember the title right now. But his parrots had such personalities!


      • Liz Johns / Jan 18 2011 8:41 pm

        Parrots do have tremendous personalities. They are the best pets and the worst pets at the same time.


  2. Whale Maiden / Jan 28 2011 1:49 pm

    Thought I’d come visit your Blog! I love this post about the QUantum Cat. I am also fascinated by the finding that things can be waves and particles depending on, well, it depends.



    • Liz Johns / Jan 28 2011 9:38 pm

      Thanks 🙂 It IS a fascinating subject, the little that I understand of it. So much we don’t know . . . yet.


  3. lisa@notesfromafrica / Feb 9 2011 4:45 am

    Great post! I definitely think you’re onto something here! My cat does the same thing. She can also transport herself from the front garden, over the roof and in through a back window before I have time to get inside the house.



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