Schrödinger's cat in popular culture

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This drawing by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, originally published in Analog magazine, illustrates MacIntyre's science-fiction story "Schrödinger's Cat-Sitter". The cat is depicted simultaneously in front of and behind the impossible trident in an optical illusion.

Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as absurdities in the views that other physicists had about quantum mechanics (ideas later labeled the Copenhagen interpretation), by applying them not to microscopic objects but to everyday ones. The thought experiment presents a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event. In the course of developing this experiment, he coined the term Verschränkung (entanglement).[1] It was not long before science-fiction writers picked up this evocative concept, often using it in a humorous vein.[2] Works of fiction have employed Schrödinger's thought experiment as plot device and as metaphor, in genres from apocalyptic science fiction to young-adult drama, making the cat more prominent in popular culture than in physics itself.[3][4][5][6]

Schrödinger's cat has been a motive in many science fiction works, and used as a title of a number of them, including Greg Bear's "Schrödinger's Plague" (Analog, 29 March 1982), George Alec Effinger's "Schrödinger's Kitten" (Omni, September 1988), Ursula Le Guin's "Schrödinger's Cat" (in the 1974 anthology Universe 5), F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's "Schrödinger's Cat-Sitter" (Analog, July/August 2001), Rudy Rucker's "Schrödinger's Cat" (Analog, 30 March 1981), and Robert Anton Wilson's Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy (1988), illustrating various interpretations of quantum physics.[7][8] In addition to novels and short stories, Schrödinger's cat has appeared in film,[9][10][11] poetry[12][13] theatre,[14][15] live-action television,[16] cartoons,[17][18][19] music,[20] and webcomics.[3]


  1. ^ E. Schrödinger, Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik, Naturwissenschaftern. 23: pp. 807–812; 823–823, 844–849. (1935). English translation: John D. Trimmer, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 124, pp. 323–38 (1980), reprinted in Quantum Theory and Measurement, p. 152 (1983).
  2. ^ Sam Stall (2007-05-01). 100 Cats Who Changed Civilization. Quirk Books. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-59474-163-0.
  3. ^ a b Crease, Robert P. (2012). "The cat that never dies". Physics World. 25 (4): 18–19. Bibcode:2012PhyW...25d..18C. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/25/04/27.
  4. ^ Ryan, Marie-Laure (2011). "Narrative/Science Entanglements: On the Thousand and One Literary Lives of Schrödinger's Cat". Narrative. 19 (2): 171–186. ISSN 1063-3685. JSTOR 41289295.
  5. ^ Kravitz, Bennett (2013). "Thoughts on the Anti-Detective in Paul Auster's "New York Trilogy", Adam Ross's "Mister Peanut", and Martha Grimes' "The Old Wine Shades"". Studies in Popular Culture. 36 (1): 45–61. ISSN 0888-5753. JSTOR 23610151.
  6. ^ Branzburg, Judith V. (2000-10-31). "Dead cats and live bodies". The Lesbian Review of Books. 7 (1): 3.
  7. ^ "SFE: Wilson, Robert Anton". Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  8. ^ "SFE: Thought Experiment". Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  9. ^ Goldberg, Matt (2020-04-17). "A Serious Man Ending Explained: The Crucible of American Judaism". Collider. Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  10. ^ Orr, Christopher (2014-09-25). "30 Years of Coens: A Serious Man". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  11. ^ Collis, Clark (2014-06-20). "Coherence". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  12. ^ Landsman, Peggy. ""Schrodinger's Cat"". Scientific American. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  13. ^ Robbins, Hollis. ""His Paws Upon The Dish"". Per Contra Journal. Per Contra. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  14. ^ "World Premiere Schrodinger's Girlfriend Closes Nov. 18 at San Fran's Magic". Schrodingers Girlfriend. Playbill Review. 18 November 2001. Archived from the original on 2010-05-17. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  15. ^ "'Girlfriend' runs out of inspiration / Ideas bog down physics comedy". SFGate Review. 5 November 2001. Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  16. ^ Mohan, Geoffrey (2013-08-12). "Google doodle honors physicist Erwin Schrodinger and his cat". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  17. ^ Gordon Farrer (2006-01-06). "Sum thing to do with maths genius". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  18. ^ Singh, Simon (October 2014). "Theories of quantum levity". Physics World. 27 (10): 80. Bibcode:2014PhyW...27j..80S. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/27/10/41. ISSN 0953-8585.
  19. ^ "The Famous Schrodinger's Cat Thought Experiment Gets Brought to Life in an Off-Kilter Animation". Open Culture. 2017-03-24. Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  20. ^ "NIGHTMARE シュレーディンガーナイフ 歌詞 - 歌詞探索【歌詞リリ】". Lyrical Nonsense. Retrieved 2023-05-28.