APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
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APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby APOD Robot » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:05 am

[img]https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/calendar/S_170401.jpg[/img] Split the Universe

Explanation: Just now, before you hit the button, two future universes are possible. After pressing the button, though, you will live in only one. A real-web version of the famous Schr�dinger's cat experiment, clicking the red button in the featured astronaut image should transform that image into a picture of the same astronaut holding one of two cats -- one living, or one dead. The timing of your click, combined with the wiring of your brain and the millisecond timing of your device, will all conspire together to create a result dominated, potentially, by the randomness of quantum mechanics. Some believe that your personally-initiated quantum decision will split the universe in two, and that both the live-cat and dead-cat universes exist in separate parts of a larger multiverse. Others believe that the result of your click will collapse the two possible universes into one -- in a way that could not have been predicted beforehand. Yet others believe that the universe is classically deterministic, so that by pressing the button you did not really split the universe, but just carried out an action predestined since time began. We at APOD believe that however foolish you may feel clicking the red button, and regardless of the outcome, you should have a happy April Fool's Day.

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pclark@bigpond.net.au

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby pclark@bigpond.net.au » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:30 am

One hundred foolish presses, 100 RIP Dead cats ... My query is , have I discovered something entropically profound?
Happy April Fools to All at APOD!
Cheers,
Peter

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Ann
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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Ann » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:45 am

An April's Fool joke, no doubt. I won't click the red button, because I like cats very much, and I refuse to feel as if I somehow contributed to the death of one! :kitty:

Click to play embedded YouTube video.


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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby geckzilla » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:18 am

My cat lived.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

Tsukalos

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Tsukalos » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:26 am

There may be multiple universes in the wake of the pilot waves (or not), but netcraft confirms: the vast majority of the scientific community knows it's all just a bunch of probability density functions.

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Ann » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:08 am

It always irked me that Schrödinger created a thought experiment about the random and unpredictable death of a living being centered around a cat. He wouldn't have put a dog in the same position, even in a thought experiment, because dogs are considered too valuable by too many people. Well, I'd say those dog lovers underestimate cats!

Live Science wrote:
While it is commonly accepted that dogs enjoy and seek the company and attention of people, there is less of a consensus about felines. Cats — which typically need more sleep and less daily maintenance than dogs — have earned a reputation (particularly among dog lovers) for being standoffish and nonchalant, and less interested in the affection and approval of people than canine pets are.

However, when researchers investigated cats' preferences for food, toys and social interaction with people, most of the cats sought human attention over everything else — even food. In other words, cats like us! They really like us!


But if we disregard the cat in the Schrödinger's cat experiment, it seems that randomness and chance play a huge part in determining the fate of humans, too.

CNN wrote:
Environmental factors contribute 29% of mutations, while the remaining 5% are inherited, say Cristian Tomasetti and Dr. Bert Vogelstein, both of Johns Hopkins University.

In a previous paper, Tomasetti and Vogelstein asserted that your risk of developing cancer is largely based on random DNA errors that occur when self-renewing cells divide. In their new paper, they offer more detail describing how dumb luck plays a more significant role than either environmental, lifestyle or hereditary factors in causing this disease.


Ann
Last edited by Ann on Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Coil_Smoke » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:15 am

I was hoping to get the full resolution version. I Clicked on the image, carefully avoiding the red button, to better see the reflection in the astronauts visor. Expecting to see our majestic Milky Way...I got a dead cat.


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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby RedFishBlueFish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:57 am

Good on yah mates! For, even knowing the date, one sucked in.

However, whether real or virtual the button-press interaction does in actuallity change/split the universe.

There are three future-verses from the point where someone has come upon this APOD: 1) No press of the button; 2) Button press & image of live cat; 3) Button press & image of dead cat.

In my case the uni/multiverse(s) changed for the better. As 10 clicks, in three browsers always resulted in the image of a live kitten one concluded that APOD had, sagely and kindly, decided that the image of a dead kitten was not a good start to an April Fool's Day.

Sadly, some of the above comments make one realise that is apparently not true - that some clicks reveal a picture of a dead cat. If this be so, then Shame on you APOD! One starts one's day with APOD to see beauty and be led to think of interesting things >> NOT to see images of dead animals. Especially not to have been in any way to have been the causal agent of that death. Offensive, truly.

As far as the idea of what reality is and what affect one might have on it one finds as much to think of in considering two ancient Zen questions:
Is the one who breathes out the same as the one who breathed in?

Is the one who leaves the same as the one who goes?


However, there is a simple answer the question of the moment: Does Schrödinger's cat change the universe, or does the universe change Schrödinger's cat?
Neither of course, for being a cat, she was never Schrödinger's at all.

One generally shares the APOD: However because of the evident possibility of sending someone to view a dead animal at the start of the day, one will not be sharing today's.

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby DavidLeodis » Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:03 pm

It was a catastrophe for the poor thing as I very mainly found the cat to be dead and only rarely alive! Sorry :kitty:.

PS. It was fun to see the old APOD April Fool's Days that were brought up through the link in each letter in the "foolish" :)

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Indigo_Sunrise » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:06 pm

What a great APOD! Love it :lol2:
Forget the box, just get outside.

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby RJN » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:25 pm

RedFishBlueFish wrote:
Sadly, some of the above comments make one realise that is apparently not true - that some clicks reveal a picture of a dead cat.


Let me be the first to assure you, RedFishBlueFish, and everyone that there is no possibly of bringing up a picture of an actual dead cat. There is only the possibility of bringing up a picture of another "live" -- but cartoon -- cat looking over a cartoon tombstone. Perhaps I should have included the disclaimer "no cats were harmed in the creation of this APOD."

For most browser / operating system combinations, there should be a 50 / 50 quantum chance of bringing up either the picture of the real cat or the cartoon cat. For these, continually clicking on the image should produce another 50/50 chance. So if you want to live in a universe where there is a real picture of a live cat here, keep clicking.

Tszabeau

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Tszabeau » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:29 pm

And if there is no red button in my universe? What then?

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby orin stepanek » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:01 pm

Pussy Cat; Pussy Cat; where have you been?
I've been to another universe to visit the Queen! :lol2:
Orin

Smile today; tomorrow's another day!

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Fred the Cat » Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:05 pm

At least choosing a cat makes you curious to look. If he chose a snake no one would want to look. :ohno:

A "Schrödinger's snake" wouldn't portray any thought with which we'd want conduct experiments. :no:
Feynman's Felicity "Only ascertain as a cat box survivor"

zendae1

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby zendae1 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:11 pm

It appears I have a resurrected cat...

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby LirrelJohn » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:19 pm

geckzilla wrote:My cat lived.


Lots of my cats lived. That's cool as I like cats.

"... the Physicists, when they finally opened the box, found that they cat had gone and left in its place a very confused dog."

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby LirrelJohn » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:34 pm

RedFishBlueFish wrote:Good on yah mates! For, even knowing the date, one sucked in.

However, whether real or virtual the button-press interaction does in actuallity change/split the universe.

There are three future-verses from the point where someone has come upon this APOD: 1) No press of the button; 2) Button press & image of live cat; 3) Button press & image of dead cat.


4: the browser crashes,
5: the box crashes,
6: an aeroplane/meteorite/Starship/hyper-powered alien from a strange planet crashes onto the viewer,
7: the viewer decides to put down the laptop and to go to make a cup of tea/coffee/beef-stew/sl'har.
8: the cosmos undergoes a subspace phase change and all live and mass-energy are wiped out
9: ... to transfinitum, choices abound ...

If we are assuming a multiverse, there are trilliards of separate universes just to take care of exactly which molecules of sugar the viewer puts into his skull of sl'har and exactly which alien species mans the hot-sl'har stand outside his house.
Even extremely obscure, unlikely, improbable and slightly demented choices *must* happen.
There must even be a cosmos, unbelievable and incredible though it may seem where people like me.

Many-worlds is extremely uneconomic in its use of cosmoses.

Anca

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Anca » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:36 pm

Great little adorable article for April 1, love it! :D

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:39 pm

Fred the Cat wrote:At least choosing a cat makes you curious to look. If he chose a snake no one would want to look. :ohno:

A "Schrödinger's snake" wouldn't portray any thought with which we'd want conduct experiments. :no:

Great, another person irrationally afraid of snakes. Next you're going to tell us you have a problem with spiders, I guess?
Chris

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ptahhotep

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby ptahhotep » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:16 pm

Oddly, I got a live cat that spontaneously changed to a dead one as I was reading the text.

mattman4100

Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby mattman4100 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:56 pm

This thing is broken! 17 clicks, and ZERO dead cats! What gives?

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby neufer » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:27 pm

ptahhotep wrote:
Oddly, I got a live cat that spontaneously changed to a dead one as I was reading the text.

    Zero atmospheric pressure :?:
mattman4100 wrote:
This thing is broken! 17 clicks, and ZERO dead cats! What gives?

And I only get live kittens.
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Split the Universe (2017 Apr 01)

Postby RJN » Sat Apr 01, 2017 8:29 pm

I wanted to put in here a few notes about today's APOD. Possibly nobody cares, but here is some of the backstory about today's APOD. Sorry for the long post.

First, I have always been interested in things like the Schrodinger's cat (SC) paradox but never saw a way previously to include SC specifically into APOD. Several years ago I recorded a lecture on SC freely available here: viewtopic.php?f=39&t=21138 .

A second milestone was by chance becoming aware of an iPhone app called "Universe Splitter" here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/univers ... 33299?mt=8 . Now I have an Android, not an iPhone, and it does not seem that this app is available for Android. I have therefore never run this app, but found it's concept, as described, intriguing. It seemed to me, though, that the app description did not connect directly to Schrodinger's cat, and seemed to give only one interpretation of what happened when you pressed the "Split Universe" button. I considered linking to this app but the app costs money and so I did not want it to appear like APOD is advertising it.

Next, I looked to see if any quantum random decisions could be generated more generally over the web. The closest I found were pages that would return random numbers based on a laboratory quantum process. Here is an example: https://qrng.anu.edu.au/ . It did not seem that this process was easily accessible by general HTML through a standard web page.

Therefore, for some time, I did not think it presently possible to create and APOD like today's. Then I was re-reading a paper I admire for other purposes: "Origin of probabilities and their application to the multiverse" by Albrecht and Phillips here: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014PhRvD..90l3514A . Much of this paper I find fascinating including the section where they find that flipping a coin can have a significantly quantum random component (Section 4). In that section it says: "The signal triggering the flip travels along human neurons which have an intrinsic temporal uncertainty of ... 0.001 seconds." This uncertainty, they guess, may be dominated by quantum noise.

The result is that a human brain guessing a time interval longer than this is essentially a classical process which a human could do with greater than 50% accuracy. So for example, if a computer was counting by seconds and you were tasked to click when the number showing was an even number (not odd), then you could do this with high accuracy. However, if the computer was counting by 0.001 second intervals and you were tasked to click when the number in the 0.001's place was even, you could NOT do this will high accuracy. Because your brain and neurons and its connection to your arm and finger is not only not fast enough, but there is a built in undefeatable quantum-random process that is operating. (See also this paper: http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n4 ... n2258.html titled "Noise in the Nervous System" by Faisal, Selen & Wolpert)

So it occurred to me that computer processors work on time scales much faster than this. But could a browser read the computer clock to 0.001 second accuracy? There seemed to be no HTML commands for this, but after some searching I found that Javascript could -- it could actually read out the operating system clock with 0.001 second accuracy.

Now I have little experience with Javascript, but I started playing around and after a few days I had it! I could get a browser to display the 0.001 time and even effectively tell me if this was even or odd! (Strange little triumphs like this can make me ecstatic.)

I then played more with Javascript and eventually got a browser to display a different image depending on the 0.001 clock readout when the user clicked. If all of this is correct, the clicking of hyperlinks which is usually classical could be made to have a significant quantum random component. This would be the first case like this of which I was aware! Hyperlinks are supposed to be classical and deterministic.

But when could I run this on APOD? Well this was in early March and sure enough April Fools days was coming around. Just enough time, it seemed.

I went through several image possibilities but settled on the famous astronaut with the sign -- it was surreal and public domain and humorous and had not appeared on APOD before.

I originally had the astronaut holding one of two signs -- "This Universe" or "That Universe". But then I decided that was too abstract -- it was better to use the known relation to Schrodinger's cat. Everyone's heard of Schrodinger's cat. I found suitable thumbnail images (no real dead cat of course) and coded and tested it during March. Jerry noted it. I edited the text several times making final edits as late as yesterday.

Postscript. After midnight when the APOD appeared, I showed a person I know hoping to get a "Cool!" response. But this APOD made that person sad. The dead cartoon cat made them remember a recently deceased real cat of which they were fond. Apparently the thought of a dead cat -- and possibly killing a cat -- even a virtual cat -- weighs heavily on people's minds. Oops. And so maybe the tie-in to Schrodinger was less appealing than I thought.

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Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!

Postby neufer » Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:57 am

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
RJN wrote:
After midnight when the APOD appeared, I showed a person I know hoping to get a "Cool!" response. But this APOD made that person sad. The dead cartoon cat made them remember a recently deceased real cat of which they were fond. Apparently the thought of a dead cat -- and possibly killing a cat -- even a virtual cat -- weighs heavily on people's minds. Oops. And so maybe the tie-in to Schrodinger was less appealing than I thought.

Good Lord - I've heard about this! Stop! Stop! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Good. Father, could there be a God that would let this happen?
Art Neuendorffer


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