Friday, May 20, 2022

Matt Haig's "The Midnight Library," Shrödinger's Cat, and Sex in the Park

Recently a good friend and former third grade teammate from Sunrise Elementary, Susan, 
invited me to join a new book club with some retired colleagues, the Sunettes.
It had started while I was in Hawaii, so I missed had the first two meetings.

"I'd love to," I said.  "When are we meeting?"

"On Thursday afternoon," Susan replied.

It was Sunday evening.  "Okay!  What's the book?"

"The Midnight Library by Matt Haig."

Ahh.  Teachers, libraries. Perfect! I thought.  
I vaguely remembered hearing of the book,
A New York Times bestseller.  "I'll order it tonight."  
After slogging through Philip Goff's Galileo's Error for weeks, 
I needed an easy read and a break from philosophy, quantum physics,
and my favorite, Schrödinger's cat.

My Favorite Cat
Sorry, Grumpy Cat ~ You've been dethroned!


I coughed up an extra $2.99 to have Amazon deliver it the next morning.
My week was shaping up to be hectic, and I didn't have time to run to a local bookstore.

When Haig's novel hit my front step late on Monday morning, I dove right in.
No time to read the back cover or inside jacket,
and besides, sometimes it's fun to jump into a book with no preconceptions.
Like when I started a new school year without reading the cum files on my kiddos.
I wanted to spend time with them and form my own first impressions.

With a hot cup of coffee, I settled in to read, pirate style with an eyepatch.
Three hundred pages and one eye, this was totally doable in three days.

Like No Pirate Ever!


I read the opening line:  "Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora..."
Oh, oh!  I thought.  The novel started with a bang, an undisclosed tragedy.

On the third page, nineteen years later
and twenty-seven hours before Nora decided to die, I read,
"And although she had studied enough existential philosophy..."
Oh, no! Philosophy! I thought Nora wanted to be an astronaut or glaciologist!
What happened?

It was downhill from there.  Her cat Voltaire had been killed.
Nora was a suicidal young woman on antidepressants and anxiety medications.
Too close to home for someone who has struggled with
depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts forever.

Nora decides that she is crap at life and swallows an overdose of her meds.
At 00:00:00, midnight, she walks into an immense library and time doesn't advance.
She meets her high school librarian, Mrs. Elm, who had delivered the news
of her father's death nineteen years before she decided to commit suicide.

"So, I am dead?" Nora asks?

"... Between life and death..."

Damn! I thought.  Quantum Superposition.  Here we go.  
I swear my favorite cat will make an appearance.

Alive or Dead?
"To be, or not to be?"


So begins Nora's adventure in the Midnight Library,
stuck between life and death at 00:00:00.
The library books enable Nora to live different lives,
each life in a different world where she made different choices.
Before time runs out, how does she answer the ultimate question:  
"What is the best way to live?"

Damn! I thought.  The multiverse.  A possibly infinite number of parallel universes,
including one where Louise is getting it right.

I'm not going to say any more about Matt Haig's amazing novel The Midnight Library
except to say that I absolutely loved it.
I connected more with this book than perhaps any other I have read.

So what happened to my post which I was writing last Thursday night
after the book club meeting with my dear Sunrise friends?
I was utterly exhausted after a week of multiple appointments,
enthralled reading and rereading,
and enthusiastically discussing the novel with the Sunettes.

I started to write my post, but I got distracted
by Schrödinger's cat and played in a rabbit hole instead.
When I realized what had happened, it was after 2:00 am,
and there was no way I was going to get anything published.
Not this night.  Not Friday.
But in some parallel universe I did get it published ~ lol!

So here are some Schrödinger cat funnies that I enjoyed:














It has taken me a long time to wrap my mind around
Schrödinger's cat and quantum superposition.
So if you haven't heard about my favorite feline, here's a quick introduction.

Schrödinger's cat is one of the most famous thought experiments in science.
We are often so locked into empirical evidence in science 
that we forget that thought experiments are useful exercises.

"A thought experiment is a hypothetical situation in which a hypothesis, theory,
or principle is laid out for the purpose of thinking through its consequences."  (Wikipedia)
Depending on how the experiment is structured, it may not be possible to perform it,
and, there may not be a need or intention to perform it.


Schrödinger's Cat in Quantum Superposition, Both Alive and Dead 


Consider Schrödinger's unfortunate feline.
The poor creature is trapped in a steel chamber that is sealed off from the outside.
Sealed in with the cat is a Geiger counter containing a tiny amount of radioactive material.
Within an hour, or maybe not, a single atom of the radioactive material will decay.
When an atom decays, the counter tube discharges, 
and through a relay it releases a hammer 
which shatters a flask of hydrocyanic acid and kills the cat.

The radioactive decay is random, and therefore so is the cat's survival or death.
In quantum physics the cat is in a state of superposition, simultaneously alive and dead.
Only when the container is opened by an observer is the superposition resolved.
The cat is dead, or the cat is alive, 
depending upon whether an atom radioactively decayed or not.






My Former Most Favorite Feline, Grumpy Cat



Schrödinger wasn't promoting simultaneously alive-and-dead cats as a serious possibility.
He was illustrating the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics in 1935.

The prevailing theory, the Copenhagen interpretation, maintained that a quantum system
remained in superposition until it reacted with or was observed by the external world.
When this occurs the superposition collapses into one or the other possible states.

"Schrödinger's famous thought experiment poses the question, 
"when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states
and become one or the other?"  (Wikipedia)












PETA exposes animals suffering in laboratories, in the food industry, 
in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry


I probably should have introduced Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian-Irish theoretical physicist (12 August 1887 - 4 January 1961).                                     


Schrödinger in 1933
Wikimedia


Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933 together with
English theoretical physicist Paul Dirac for their work on quantum mechanics.  

Schrödinger was interested in explaining
that an electron in an atom would move as a wave.  
This resulted in the Schrödinger equation, which calculates
how the wave function of a quantum mechanical system evolves over time.  (Britannica)


A Cat Comedian











I will always struggle with the quantum world and how it forces us to see the universe.
I wish I had been born with the gift of understanding higher mathematics.  
I hit a wall with algebra and geometry and just forget calculus and statistics and beyond.

I can sense mathematic's clarity and beauty, but its exact meaning eludes me.
Too often I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon.
If I had understood higher mathematics, I might have become
an astrophysicist, a cosmologist, or an astrogeologist.

Well, Himself, my sometimes-not-so-Ever-Patient husband, 
is trying to tempt me away from cats, quantum theory, mathematics, and posting.
He knows how to work with ADHD personalities:  
Warn them in advance that closure is coming at a specific time.

He told me about ten minutes ago that he would make me his summer cocktail,
if I would join him for a drink in thirty minutes on our warm deck
(before the snow starts to fly tomorrow).

That gives me about five more times to listen to
and a chance to add some more Schrödinger cat funnies.
(You may have to click on the volume button in the lower left of the video, if you wish to listen to the video.)

I'm sorry.  I am out of control.  This is my favorite cat, and I can't help myself!
And this feline has been the target of many, many funny jokes.































Schrödinger's cat is alive!


"I'm making the cocktail," Himself is calling.

Closure is approaching.
Just one more funny, and it has nothing to do with my favorite feline.
It is just too darn cute!




"Your drink is ready!"

Closing time.  
I wonder how editing will go after one of Terry's potent cocktails?

***********

And for Rain's Thursday Art Date prompt of May Flowers, Pollination, and Birds,
here are five photographs:

May Flowers Along Piney Creek
Aurora, Colorado
May 5, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved







Sex in the Park ~ Pollination 
Cottonwoods are dioecious.
Female and male flowers (catkins) are borne on separate trees.
Top:  Female       Middle:  Male       Bottom:  Female with Seeds Embedded in Cotton
They are cross-pollinated by the wind.
The female catkins produce seeds embedded in cotton which are dispersed by the wind.
Along Piney Creek Aurora, Colorado
May 2020 and 2022
June 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved




A Male and Female Mallard Pair ~ Birds
Along Piney Creek, Aurora, Colorado
May 5, 2022
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved



Stay hopeful and creative!





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved








39 comments:

  1. Huge thanks - for the review of a book I am going to have to read, and for all the shrodingers.

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    1. I'm so pleased, EC! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did! Have a happy weekend!

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  2. I loved the cat under the dog's leg, took me some time to find it's face :-)

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    1. I just loved that funny, Brenda! It was precious. Humor is one antidote to worries about all that is going on in the world. Have a lovely weekend!

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  3. Glad you stuck with the book and enjoyed it.
    And the funnies are great!

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    1. Thanks, Alex! I need to laugh a lot these days, and these funnies certainly work for me. I'm loving your book, which I had to set aside for several days, so I could read the book for the Sunettes' club. Enjoy your weekend!

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  4. I like the sound of the midnight library, I will see if I can get it. Thanks for the Schrödinger funnies and explanations, a fun read today. Have a great weekend, hugs, Valerie

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    1. I really enjoyed "The Midnight Library," Valerie! It was good for me to try to explain things clearly. Writing often clarifies my thoughts. Take care!

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  5. Thanks Louise, just downoaded thebook onto my Kindle, off for a feet-up and read break!

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    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed my post, Valerie! Enjoy your read break!

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  6. AWESOME collection of Schrodinger's Cat memes and lols, Louise! And I love the concept of the Midnight Library between life and death! I've added the book to my "to read" list now.

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    1. I had so much fun hunting down the Schrödinger's cat funnies. I get my inspiration from you. You are a master of finding funny things! Have a great weekend!

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  7. hahaha that last one is a fun one indeed. Also liked the dog peeking out instead of the cat. Many a fun one is had with the poor kitty. The book sure sounds like a winner indeed. I'm pretty good at math, but once you get up to stuff like that, my eyes start to glaze over. Guess there is a reality out there where I can understand it. Or like it. Or understand and like it. And remember it is a reality. It can't be an alternate dimension as those are finite. Realities are supposed to be infinite, but even that is bull. Nothing is infinite. Everything has an end. We just can't see the end. But then if space has an end where does it end? Does it wrap back around? But then what is outside the wrap? Hmmmm maybe we are just germs inside a giant who is germs inside another giant. Hmm too many rabbit holes. lol

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    1. Every time I see the cat walking around in the box, I start laughing. And these days a steady supply of laughs is needed! Fortunately, you make me laugh a lot, my funny friend! How do you know that infinity doesn't exist in some form, Pat? How do you know that you exist or that I do? lol ~ philosophy and quantum physics are messing with my mind.

      I was thinking earlier today how much you would "enjoy" the snowstorm we're having right now. Yesterday 88º F. (31.1º C), and today a snowstorm. Climate change is messing with my mind too. We live in an interesting and challenging time. Have a great weekend!

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  8. Great review. It sounds like a great read. Love the photos and the funnies. Have a lovely day.

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    1. Thanks, Nicole! I'm glad that you enjoyed my post. The participants, like you, in Rain's TAD are so encouraging and supportive. Have a good one!

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  9. Fun cat photos and captions ~ lovely nature photos ~ not sure about the book ~ but glad you enjoyed ~ Humor helps so much ~ Xo

    Wishing you good health, laughter, and love,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  10. ...over the years I have cut down all of the female cottonwoods on our property. The June snowstorms drive me crazy, but the stuff still blows in from our neighbors. Being dyslexic makes reading nearly impossible for me. I read short articles, but reading for pleasure is no pleasure at all.

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    1. Hi, Tom! I know the June snowstorms drive a lot of people crazy! You are not alone! I find them wondrous because I wasn't experienced with cottonwoods until I moved to Colorado. And I never experienced the flying, drifting cotton until I moved near Piney Creek about 16 years ago. I think it is beautiful and fascinating.

      Of course, I don't have it drifting all over my yard and sprouting little cottonwoods that I have to dig out. And some people I've met suffer with allergies that the pollen causes.

      People in my family have dyslexia, and I have had many students with it. It takes a lot of pleasure out of reading. I'm sorry that you face this challenge. Have a good weekend!

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  11. Funny enough the local police apparently have so many people getting naughty in the park , they had to several times warn against it on the news.

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    1. LOL, Adam! ~ Fortunately I haven't run into people behaving badly in "my" park. Perhaps north of Aurora Parkway some teenagers are having fun, but in "my" section it's just nonhuman nature. Have a great weekend!

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  12. Enjoyed your photos for the art date! Thanks for introducing me to Shrodinger.

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    1. You're welcome, Christine! I hope you are enjoying Saturday!

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  13. Rain's challenge encompassed just about everything this week. Seemed like you could just point the camera anywhere and capture somethin to fit the bill. Right now I am looking at a beautiful wine-dipped Purple Finch on the bird feeder at the house we are renting on Grand Manan. What a handsome chap!

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    1. Lucky you, David! I googled the wine-dipped purple finch, and he is a handsome chap indeed! House finches are very common around our home, and I always enjoy seeing them. Grand Manan sounds wonderful! Enjoy!

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  14. That book sounds good, but I know what you mean about needing something light. I'm reading a Connie Willis book right now (Passages) about near death experiences. I like it, but it is at a point where something big needs to happen. And Schrodinger's cat is such a classic physics mind experiment. The little video of SChrodinger's cat being alive made me laugh. Those funnies are great. Thanks for visiting my blog and have a great weekend. Hope you make it through your book too unscathed. hugs-Erika

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    1. Hugs back at you, Erika! Every time I see the little video of Schrödinger's cat walking in the box, I laugh. Every second Saturday I go to my neighborhood Barnes & Noble for coffee, a goodie, and browsing through magazines and books. I came home today with an armload ~ bad Louise! ~ lol! I hope that you are having a fun weekend too!

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  15. Louise, you always make me smile. I LOVE your sense of humour! Though a lot of what you wrote is going right in one ear and out the other so they say lol...my brain can't compute the quantumn-ness of it all lol! Sounds like a great book! Love your photography! Cheers to potent cocktails!!! ♥

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    1. Thanks, Rain! I'm glad you love my sense of humor. Terry doesn't get my humor at all. That's why I love my blogging buddies! They "get" me. I'm not good at the quantum world, but if I spend enough time going over it, I'll eventually get it conceptually, if not mathematically. Enjoy that screened house with Alex!

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  16. OMG, ADHD only begins to explain your post ... LOL ... interesting, funny , informative, confusing at times and poor Schrodinger's Cat. I had to go back to the beginning of your post because by the time I had finished, I had forgotten the name of the book. So now I have written it down and will order it on Amazon (free shipping for me) . I am currently reading a book so I have time and don't need to pay for a fast delivery. I hope the author of this book is giving you something worth the upward bump in his book sales that you have created with this post. You are a hoot, Fundy Blue ... so glad you have returned to the fold :)

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! You are so affirming and encouraging! I'm out of control because I'm feeling so much better now that my antithyroid drugs are working.

      And earlier this week my Graves ophthalmologist put me back on steroids after taking me off them in late February. My vision was getting badly, freaky, increasingly worse. Now the steroids have kicked in, and my swelling eye muscles are shrinking, so my double vision is decreasing.

      I am excited because I'm not struggling with trying to write by hand and do other visual things. I found myself pouring laundry detergent on the floor a few days ago ~ I swore it was going in the little cup, and chopping onions and such has been adventurous. But it's all good! Things are on the upswing!

      Take care. Thank you for your kind words. Have a great week! XOX

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  17. Great post, Louise, although I confess that the "Sex in the Park" part grabbed my attention first! HAHA I think getting together and having a conversation with you would be SOOO interesting. The memes were fantastic! I need all the laughs I can get these days.

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    1. Thanks, Martha! "Sex in the Park" was a bit of a tease, I'll admit. Have a wonderful week! Hugs to you!

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  18. I guess you never know if there IS a cat. :)

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    1. Only if it meows! Have a good week, Monica!

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  19. Don't know what happened to my post, but it sounds like you are in a book club that reads serious books. Thanks for the primer on the "cat." I'd heard of him, but didn't know the backstory.

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    1. I'm glad I could fill in the backstory of the cat, Jeff. I have a little confession to make. I'm becoming intrigued by philosophy. Never saw that one coming ~ lol!

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  20. What a lot to contemplate here! Yikes! The book sounds fascinating. I'd heard of the Cat but didn't know anything about him. As one who would rather such experiments be conducted on other creatures than cats, it's a little creepy but the memes are just great (and I also love the non-related "No, I haven't seen the cat" one!). Beautiful pollination examples, too. Thanks so much for coming over to visit at Marmelade Gypsy! Happy week!

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Jeanie! I'm way too behind in answering comments. I hope that all is well with you and your loved ones!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.