Schrodinger's Car

Schrodinger’s Car

June 2, 2022

Schrodinger’s Car

by Jun 2, 2022

On the topic of ensuring vehicle safety, an amusing thought crossed my mind regarding inspections and observation. I would hesitate to call this amusement a thought experiment, but it was (very) loosely based on a physicist, Erwin Schrodinger’s thought experiment, “Schrodinger’s Cat.”

While I realize that many days…most days, auto mechanics can remain unconcerned with quantum mechanics thought experiments, today is not that day. Time to have some fun with us here.

For those unfamiliar, “Schrodinger’s Cat” is a hypothetical scenario imagining:

  • A cat is placed in a steel container along with a vial of toxin.
  • The vial is underneath a spring-loaded hammer.
  • The hammer is only released by a sensitive instrument looking for radioactive decay.

Schrodinger theorized that after an hour, the cat exists in both states, living and deceased.

That is, until the container is opened and observed, at which point a single reality is identified.

While Erwin Schrodinger’s experiment has nothing to do with vehicle inspections, let me show you where I’m going with this. In my own thought experiment, I propose that Schrodinger’s Car is both safe and unsafe until it is inspected and observed, at which point a single reality is identified.

It seems ridiculous, right? But imagine…

  • Your client is placed in a fast-moving car with the potential to veer off the road.
  • A threaded rod/ball joint mechanism allows your client to steer safely.
  • The threaded rod only fails if it decays enough, causing your client to lose control.

Could we theorize that after enough time, your client exists in both states…safe and unsafe?

Until your client’s vehicle is inspected and observed, you and your client cannot confirm just a single reality. The results are unknown and could be catastrophic.

Just a thought.

Craig O'Neill

Craig O'Neill

Vice President of Training

Craig O'Neill