Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Lottery Results and Schrödinger's cat

If you instantly know what I mean by the title of this post, I tip my hat to you.  

The Schrödinger's cat paradox is complicated enough, but what does it have to do with the lottery?

Let me explain...

Typically, I buy a ticket for the EuroMillions lottery each draw.  I do a lucky dip so I don't have to commit to playing every time, as I would if I had set numbers (like I do with the regular UK lottery, ugh) and I do it online because it's just easier.

When you win something, you get a super exciting email to say "we have news about your ticket" but it doesn't say any more than that, just that you need to log in and see the message.

This is where Schrödinger and his cat come in.  In that Paradox the scenario you are presented with is that the cat is in a box and effectively, it's both alive and dead at the same time*  

When I get that email from the lottery to say they have a message about my ticket, for the 45 or so seconds it takes me to log in I am both a multi-millionairess who can quite my job and live in the lap of luxury and a girl who needs to get her shit together and go to work because she's cutting it really fine.

It's only when you open the message (or open the box) that you know for sure and so far, it's always been the latter.  The dead, radioactive cat, if you will. 

But maybe one day. Maybe one day the cat will be alive and I'll buy a yacht or something.  

*There's a lot more to it than my crude summary for the purposes of illustrating a point - it's science after all - and I'd recommend the wikipedia page if you want more info.

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