Ah, that troublesome cat. I do enjoy thinking about him. On one hand, experience tells me that a cat has to be either dead or alive; however, until I have a way of telling which state this particular cat is in, I would behave as if he could be either one with an equal probability (meaning that any influence this cat would have over my behavior would exhibit 50% alive character and 50% dead character). For example, as I prepare to open the box, I may set out some water and food for him, but I may also have a trash bag ready, just in case. Whereas if I knew he were going to be alive I wouldn't have expended the energy to find a trash bag, but perhaps would have made him up a nice little bed.
I suppose things are ultimately defined by how they interact with and influence their environment. Since the cat's influence cannot be defined as being specifically that of a dead state or that of an alive state, the cat can only be defined as a function of probabilities. It's not that he couldn't be one state or the other at any given moment, it's just that without exerting influence on the observer either way, his specific state is irrelevant. It is entirely possible that an alien spaceship landed in my backyard last night, leaving no trace - did it happen? does it matter to me if it never influences my known reality? And to those who would claim that the cat has to be either dead or alive before the box is opened, simply because it has to be one or the other, you never know, perhaps the doomed cat has discovered how to reach a higher dimensional state of being while we've all been debating his fate.
However, If I had to make a guess prior to opening the box, I would say he was dead, as that would likely be a lower energy state with higher entropy.
Dear Mr. Kelton,
Thanks for your participation in this discussion.
You said things are ultimately defined by how they interact with or influence the environment.
If you mean the word "thing" as the fate of the cat, then I would like to ask.
The very root key that determines the fate of the cat is only one single radioactive atom.
Whether the radio active decay will happen or not is irrevent of our observation, I believe so.
I thought the radioactive decay ia happening and will happen irrespective of our consciousness from the external position with regard to the box.
So that, all of physical phenomena, I think, will proceed spontaneously by and due to its own probabilistic fate to which fate we external observer cannot touch or influence any effect if we are isolated with it.
Am I right? I think perhaps I am for your probalistitic explanation on the Schroedinger's cat.
P.S. Reading a book "The Quantum Divide" written by Gerry and Bruno, I am now confusing the terms "decoherence", "microscopic" and "macroscopic". The book does not give me any mathematecal definition of decoherence.
P.S.2. "Is there the Moon, when nobody is looking?" from a quotation of A. Einstein.