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

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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.

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video
This Puzzling Math Brain Teaser Has a Simple Solution
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Fans of number-based brainteasers might find themselves pleasantly stumped by the following question, posed by TED-Ed’s Alex Gendler: Which sequence of integers comes next?

1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221, ?

Mathematicians may recognize this pattern as a specific type of number sequence—called a “look-and-say sequence"—that yields a distinct pattern. As for those who aren't number enthusiasts, they should try reading the numbers they see aloud (so that 1 becomes "one one," 11 is "two ones," 21 is "one two, one one,” and so on) to figure the answer.

Still can’t crack the code? Learn the surprisingly simple secret to solving the sequence by watching the video below.

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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