Schrödinger's Cat

Cecil, you're my final hope
Of finding out the true Straight Dope.
For I've been reading of Schrödinger's cat,
But none of my cats are at all like that.
This unusual animal, so it is said,
Is simultaneously live and dead.
What I don't understand is just why he
Can't be one or the other, unquestionably.
If you understand, Cece, then show me the way,
And rescue my psyche from quantum decay.
But if this weird dilemma has perplexed even you,
Then I will and won't see you in Schrödinger's zoo.

- Randy F., Chicago

Schrödinger, Erwin! Professor of physics!
Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics!
(Not bad, eh? Don't worry. This part of the verse
Starts of pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.)
Win saw that the theory that Newton'd invented,
By Einstein's discov'ries had been badly dented.
"What now?" wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, "Don't panic!
No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic!
Consider electrons. Now these teeny articles
Are sometimes like waves, but then sometimes like particles.
And if that's not confusing, the nuclear dance
Of electrons and suchlike is governed by chance!"
Not everyone bought this. It threatened to wreck
The comforting linkage 'tween cause and effect.
E'en Einstein had doubts, so Schrodinger tried
To tell him what quantum mechanics implied.
Said Win to Al, "Bro, suppose we've a cat,
And inside a tube we have put that cat at,
Along with a solitaire deck and some Fritos,
A bottle of Night Train, a couple mosquitos
(Or something else rhyming) and-- oh, if you've got 'em,
One vial prussic acid, one decaying ottom
(Or atom-- whatever), and when it emits,
A trigger device blasts the vial to bits,
Which snuffs our poor kitty. The odds of this crime
Are fifty-to-fifty per hour per time.
The cylinder's sealed. The hour's passed away. Is
Our pussy still purring, or pushing up daisies?
Now you'd say the cat either lives or it don't,
But quantum mechanics is fussy and won't.
Statistically speaking, the cat, goes the joke,
Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked.
To some this may seem a ridiculous split,
But quantum mechanics must answer, 'Tough shit.
We may not know much, but one thing's fo' sho':
There's things in this cosmos that we can not know.'
The effect of this notion? I very much fear
'Twill muddle all things that were formerly clear,
'Til one day cat doctors will say in reports,
'We've just flipped a coin and we've learned he's a corpse.'"
So said Herr Erwin. Quoth Albert, "You're nuts!
God doesn't play dice with the universe, putz!
I'll prove it!" And the Lord knows he tried,
Until, finally, he more or less died.
Win spoke at his funeral: "Listen, dear friends.
Dear Al was my buddy. I must make amends.
Though he doubted my theory, I'll say this of this saint:
Ten-to-one he's in heaven-- but five bucks says he ain't."

Tony Minkoff