Schrödinger’s cat and her laboratory cousins
Anthony J. LeggettUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
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In a famous 1935 paper, Erwin Schroedinger pointed out the apparently bizarre consequences which flow from the assumption that the formalism of quantum mechanics can be extrapolated from the world of electrons and atoms to the level of our own direct consciousness (the “Cat” paradox). In this paper I first discuss some alleged resolutions of the paradox, then point out that the premise is not self-evident, and define a class of alternative (“macrorealistic”) scenarios. I then review the extent to which the experimental predictions of quantum mechanics are currently tested in the direction of the everyday world, and explain a crucial test, yet to be performed, of these predictions vis-a-vis those of macrorealism.