Unemployed Philosophers Guild / iStock
Unemployed Philosophers Guild / iStock

You Won't Know if Schrödinger's Cat Is Alive or Dead Until You Use These Mugs

 Unemployed Philosophers Guild / iStock
Unemployed Philosophers Guild / iStock

Schrödinger's Cat is probably one of the most famous thought experiments of all time. Erwin Schrödingercreated the scenario as a means to explain quantum mechanics, but as it turns out, the analogy also works great as a mug. The Unemployed Philosophers Guild is now making matching, heat-sensitive mugs showing identical boxes. Either a living cat or a dead cat will appear when you pour hot liquid in, but you have no way of knowing for sure until you do.

The mugs mirror the scenario that Schrödinger created to point out flaws in the Copenhagen Interpretation. To get super basic, quantum mechanics is concerned with observing things way too small for the human eye to see. In order to observe them, the objects have to be altered in some way, so it's impossible to say what they were doing before being observed. The Copenhagen Interpretation says that an object can exist in all possible configurations until it's observed, when it collapses into just one.

Schrödinger's Cat takes this theory and brings it to a hypothetical, macro-scale. When we think of a cat being simultaneously alive and dead simply because we haven't checked, we see how absurd the idea is.

The analogy comes to life on the two matching mugs, which make the thought experiment a bit more literal. Grab them on ThinkGeek for your own studies, and don't forget that heat sensitive mugs can't go in the microwave or dishwasher.

George Washington’s Incredible Hair Routine

America's Founding Fathers had some truly defining locks, but we tend to think of those well-coiffed white curls—with their black ribbon hair ties and perfectly-managed frizz—as being wigs. Not so in the case of the main man himself, George Washington.

As Robert Krulwich reported at National Geographic, a 2010 biography on our first president—Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow—reveals that the man “never wore a wig.” In fact, his signature style was simply the result of an elaborately constructed coiffure that far surpasses most morning hair routines, and even some “fancy” hair routines.

The style Washington was sporting was actually a tough look for his day. In the late 18th century, such a hairdo would have been worn by military men.

While the hair itself was all real, the color was not. Washington’s true hue was a reddish brown color, which he powdered in a fashion that’s truly delightful to imagine. George would (likely) don a powdering robe, dip a puff made of silk strips into his powder of choice (there are a few options for what he might have used), bend his head over, and shake the puff out over his scalp in a big cloud.

To achieve the actual ‘do, Washington kept his hair long and would then pull it back into a tight braid or simply tie it at the back. This helped to showcase the forehead, which was very in vogue at the time. On occasion, he—or an attendant—would bunch the slack into a black silk bag at the nape of the neck, perhaps to help protect his clothing from the powder. Then he would fluff the hair on each side of his head to make “wings” and secure the look with pomade or good old natural oils.

To get a better sense of the play-by-play, check out the awesome illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton that accompany Krulwich’s post.

"American Mall," Bloomberg
Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]


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