Schrödinger’s cat

On this day in 1935, Erwin Schrödinger published his thought experiment using a paradox to illustrate a problem with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Made famous by Big Bang Theory fans, this experiment was referred to as ‘Schrödinger’s cat’, and involved placing a living cat into a steel box with a small amount of radioactive material, a Geiger counter, a hammer and vial of poison. If the Geiger counter sensed the radioactive material, it would release the hammer to break the vial of poison, killing the cat.  Having no idea whether the radioactivity would be detected or simply decay, and having no control over the consequences of either option, meant that without observation of the interior of the box, you can consider the cat as simultaneously alive and dead.  As Sheldon explains…

I was considering how this experiment plays out in so many other things – like the wonderful world of start-ups.  In the early stages, you are building the box.  Carefully placing in the features that will make the experiment a success.  Then you work to define the subjects of the experiment, the businesses, people or processes that will be most acutely affected by your build or by the results of your experiment.  Then you seal up the box and launch it into the world.  At some point, you will need to open the box again, but until that time, your start-up is in a quantum state of simultaneous success and failure. And ironically, this is the state you are in when you head out to raise money through revenue or investment.

An optimist, like myself and most entrepreneurs, will insist that the cat is alive and thriving, and maybe convince you of the same. And the more people we convince, the more likely the cat will survive until we do open the box again.  The paradox of Schrödinger’s Start-Up.

About the Author:  This is me!  My passion lies in leveraging today’s technology to create, support and engage communities and drive measurable economic growth.  Like many, I yearn for a time when fear won’t dominate actions, where local shops thrive and people understand the value and power of local investment, in all it’s forms.

~ Lisa Denis, Founder