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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Admiralty law and the sinking of Schrödinger's catboat

by John MacBeath Watkins

Schrödinger's catboat was in a marina, and no people were present. The degradation of a single radioactive molecule caused a through-hull fitting to fail. At this point, quantum mechanics in their greasy coveralls argued that the catboat was both afloat and on the bottom until someone collapsed the wave function.

In the subsequent lawsuit, the insurance company argued that whoever collapsed the wave function should pay the damages. However, when they commenced to argue that the breakwater collapsed the wave function and the township was therefore at fault, the judge threatened to hold their lawyers in contempt if they could not state with certainty their position and velocity at the time of the sinking. Perhaps I should mention that the judge was employed by the township.

At this point, Schrödinger realized that no one was going to pay damages on his catboat within his lifetime, because Admiralty Law involves far more uncertainty, and the judge enjoys more superposition, than anything the quantum mechanics have ever encountered. And it takes a lot longer to resolve.

Sailing the Catboat

Winslow Homer

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